When Marie-France Perreault has a visit scheduled with her respiratory therapist, she doesn't have to leave her home in Saint-Lin-Laurentides north of Montreal. She simply logs on to a Televisit computer unit installed at her house and goes to her appointment online.
Televisit is available to patients who need to use respirators due to congenital disorders, high spinal cord injuries and neuromuscular diseases. The service links patients to appointments with health care providers such as respiratory therapists, neurologists, respirologists, psychiatrists, orthopedic specialists and nutritionists. Televisit is a service provided in Quebec through the National Program for Home Ventilatory Assistance (NPHVA). It operates through the McGill University Health Centre and the RUIS McGill (Réseau universitaire intégré de santé de l'Université McGill), one of the province's four health networks.
Perreault, who has limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, no longer walks and needs to use a respirator at night. For her, travelling to appointments from her home was stressful and required the assistance of family members. With Televisit, she is more independent and has a greater sense of security.
"With this new system I don't have to call my sister. I don't have to call the family. I contact my respiratory therapist. I turn on the computer and get the service I need," says Perreault. She adds it is as easy as going online and using a webcam to chat with a friend.
Rita Troini, NPHVA director of the Televisit project, said the units are used by patients for scheduled sessions as well as to request a consult when health issues arise. Tele-education sessions can be set up if caregivers, local community health care providers or family members have concerns. "This is reassuring for the patients' families," Troini added.
The Televisit units are equipped with a remote-controlled blood pressure cuff and an electronic stethoscope which the patient or caregiver can use to send readings to the health care provider. An integrated miniature camera can be used to take photos of skin lesions if a dermatology consult is required. Other add-on equipment available includes glucometers for diabetics and spirometers for those patients with breathing capacity problems. The unit's software allows health care professionals to book appointments and enter patient progress reports online.
Televisit was launched in 2010 and now serves 26 pediatric and adult patients across various regions of the province. Financial support for the project was provided by Canada Health Infoway and the Ministère de la santé et des Services sociaux du Québec.
(This video is available in French only)