One positive aspect of the COVID crisis is that it has greatly expanded the use of virtual care. Hamilton Health Sciences in its annual report says it increased remote care by 1,500 percent. Examples of the changed care include:
- extending eye care to thousands of Indigenous children living in remote northern Ontario communities using ICEE technology developed by McMaster. The technology will link the health care staff and children with eye specialists at MCH through a website that houses the innovative new eye exam software and includes virtual exam rooms.
- Virtual urgent care appointments allows adults, parents with children and long-term care home providers to speak to the appropriate emergency room doctor remotely to discuss the patient’s condition. Together, the doctor, the patient or providers will determine next steps, such as seeing another care provider or coming to the emergency department.
- A remote Heart Failure program allow doctors to monitor the conditions of persons who suffer from heart failure. Medical staff can monitor patients’ vital signs in real-time and respond quickly if they see deterioration.
- When the pandemic forced the closure of the Child and Youth Mental Health outpatient program, staff switched to a virtual model to allow vulnerable youth and their families to continue to receive care, Staff were able to maintain the same level of care as they were delivering pre-pandemic through online and phone visits.
- Virtual consultations by experts in the neonatal care unite at McMaster Children’s Hospital for critically ill babies being care for by Niagara Health. This reduces the need for Niagara infants to be transferred to Hamilton.
- Remote monitoring allows people to be discharged from hospital quickly and safely. Patients are given a tablet computer and monitoring equipment that records blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen levels, temperature and weight.
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