Yukon telehomecare staff returning to the office from visiting patients used to face the task of filling out assessment forms and entering progress notes online. Now they can do this work on-site during home sessions, thanks to the tablet computers they take on the road with them.
"At the end of the day or after a trip away to outlying areas, we can simply upload the material to our network," said Linda McConnell, community liaison coordinator and physiotherapist. "This means there's no delay in the information getting online so other health care providers can use it when addressing the needs of our patients."
Other providers include social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nurses. "Before going to supply care for patients, they can download the latest assessment reports and use them to guide care decisions."
Social worker Brenda Charles said that for the most part patients have accepted the computer coming into their homes. "Most patients have a comfort level about us using the tablets. And it allows them to collaborate more regarding information collected and share in care planning."
The Yukon telehomecare service provides care to a diverse population ranging in age from two to 99 years. It includes both follow-up care for acute cases as well as long-term and palliative care. Patients are located across the territory as well as in one fly-in community.
The tablet computers have come in handy at a time when demands on the telehomecare service are increasing. "Our patient population includes more people who live off the grid - with no electricity or running water - than in the southern provinces," McConnell said. "We also have patients who moved here away from family and friends. When they get ill, they have no support so they turn to us for assistance. Being able to produce timely information for use by our interdisciplinary team has become a pressing need."
Charles added that due to availability of home care, residents with multiple traumas, such as those with spinal cord injuries who need more support and had been forced to live in other provinces, are now moving back to the Yukon. "Our caseload is expanding. We do an average of one to two full assessments per patient each year. Using the tablets allows us to get new information into the system quicker than before. And that benefits our patients and our health care providers."
The project to equip homecare staff with the tablet computers was launched in 2009 and financed jointly by the Government of Yukon's Department of Health and Social Services and Canada Health Infoway.