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Rapid Response to COVID-19

Rapid Response to COVID-19

Infoway Working with Provinces and Territories to Fund Virtual Care Solutions

The world has changed overnight as a result of the current health crisis — more than half of patient visits with health care providers are now virtual. This helps to keep patients, clinicians, clinic staff and their families safe by reducing the potential for exposure. Canada Health Infoway is working with Health Canada and the provinces and territories to quickly develop and expand virtual care solutions across Canada.

To help accelerate this shift to virtual care, Infoway reallocated existing funds to create a Rapid Adoption of Virtual Care Fund. In consultation with Health Canada and the jurisdictions, we identified three priority areas for investment that would have the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time: accelerating the implementation of virtual care solutions (including e-visits and home monitoring), offering online mental health services and increasing citizen access to COVID-19 results.

virtual care

Virtual Care
e-Visits and e-Monitoring
Virtual care solutions can safely connect patients with physicians. Virtual care is any interaction between a patient and health care provider that doesn’t involve direct contact. It can include video visits, secure messaging, as well as remote patient monitoring.

mental health

Online Mental Health Services and Tools
With many Canadians self-isolating and experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, the ability to safely access mental health care is more important than ever. Online solutions can help Canadians connect safely from home 24/7.

tele-triage

Virtual Triaging and Patient Access to COVID-19 Results
Waiting for results can be stressful. With online access, patients can log on to see their COVID-19 test results as soon as they’re available.

A new day in health care is here, and Infoway is proud to work with jurisdictions across Canada to rapidly scale virtual care.

Privacy

Privacy is reinforced in all of Infoway’s initiatives through its funding model, the Digital Health Blueprint, associated privacy and security architecture, requirements and considerations, pan-Canadian common understandings and white papers. 

Infoway also works closely with the jurisdictions through working groups such as the Privacy Forum and the Health Information Privacy Group, to identify practices that can be leveraged for re-use across the country.

Access to Services

Providing Canadians with Access to Digital Health Services

Infoway is committed to an integrated, person-centred health care system for all Canadians. Evidence shows that patient-centred care is directly related to improved quality and safety, lower health care system costs and enhanced performance of providers. To that end, we are spearheading the replacement of fax- and paper-based systems with the implementation of integrated digital health solutions that give Canadians access to digitally-enabled health services.

Managing Gestational Diabetes Remotely

 

Virtual Visits

Virtual visits, also known as e-visits, are secure, two-way digital communication between health providers and their patients, and can include emails, text messaging and videoconferencing. Infoway is dedicated to empowering Canadians to better manage their health and virtual visits enable Canadians to access care closer to home. This enables those who live in rural communities, as well as those who have mobility issues or are unable to get time off work to connect with their health care providers more conveniently.

Telehomecare

Services such as telehomecare also bring care closer to home and can help patients living with chronic conditions address issues before they become critical and require an emergency department visit. Telehomecare programs provide patients with the technology and support they need to monitor conditions such as congestive heart failure (CHF) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from home. Patients track vital signs and receive coaching on how to better manage their condition, allowing providers to intervene sooner if their condition alters. This enables patients in telehomecare programs to avoid emergency department visits and hospital stays, as well as enjoy a better quality of life.

e-Booking

e-Booking, another digital health service, can provide patients with the convenience of booking appointments with their health provider online and at their convenience while also freeing up the time of medical clinic staff and reducing the number of appointment no-shows through automated reminders.

Access for Clinicians

Providing Clinicians with the Information they Need

Care is more efficient and safer when clinicians have the information they need to make timely, informed decisions. Infoway is enabling clinicians to access patient information, as well as improving communications between clinicians through digital health services. Access to information can help avoid unnecessary duplication of tests. Digital services such as e-referrals and e-consults can also help reduce patients’ wait times to access speciality clinician services.

Dr. Tunji Fatoye's Story: Improving Patient Safety

 

e-Referrals

e-Referrals enable clinicians to request a referral for service from another health care provider electronically, rather than by fax or mail. A family physician might send an e-referral to a specialist, for example, requesting that the specialist see their patient for a specific medical concern. This e-service streamlines patient care and enables clinicians to better track the status of a referral. Some e-referral solutions also enable patients to track the status of their referrals as well.

e-Consults 

e-Consults enable clinicians to consult with specialists in order to inform patient care and determine whether an e-referral is necessary. e-Consults can improve collaboration and care coordination among clinicians and across care settings and reduce the number of unnecessary referrals in the health system.

e-Mental Health

Mental health affects one in five people every year. Digital health can improve access to care for some of the most vulnerable populations, including those experiencing mental health issues.

e-Mental Health refers to mental health services and information delivered or enhanced through the Internet and related technologies, such as apps, videoconferencing and text.

e-Mental health Solution Supports Patients

 

Examples of digital health solutions used for mental health services include:

  • Online self-help: Includes self-help modules and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) apps
  • Crisis support: Includes phone help lines, text support, online chat support, hot spot notifications
  • Medical intervention: Includes video-based counselling; telemedicine videoconferences; and text-based counselling, clinical follow up and referral
  • Peer-led support: Includes online monitoring, peer support apps, social media, chat rooms, instant messaging, gaming
  • Coaching: Includes online therapy; video, text and voice chat

Wait lists for treatment are lengthy and access to mental health care is limited by specialist availability, geography and cost. Counselling or psychotherapy is one of the most cited unmet needs among Canadians. Digital health can enable people to connect to a variety of care types through connected devices and solutions.

Projects such as the Big White Wall, an Infoway-funded project, offer 24/7 access to peer support for those dealing with mental health-related issues in Ontario.

Related Resources e-Mental Health

RT @EnvironicsMR: We recently partnered with @infoway to conduct a nationwide engagement activity that found Canadians’ appetite for virtua…

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