Health Canada's contribution to the project will help create an information network system allowing live consultations between a physician located in an urban community, and a nurse and patient at a rural health centre. This gives patients in remote areas greater access to diagnoses and treatments by facilitating direct consultations with primary care physicians, and reduces patient and medical personnel travel in a very large geographical area of 20.000 square kilometres.
"Our aim is to build a telehealth network to improve service delivery to people living in rural and First Nations communities in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region", stated Minister McLellan. "This project reflects the Government of Canada's commitment to develop an efficient and acceptable health system through better use of information and communications technologies."
In partnership with the Université du Québec in Abititi-Témiscamingue, the Winneway First Nations and private sector technology providers Abbott Laboratories, Tanberg Canada, and Télébec, the Centre is building a two-way video-conferencing network that will link patients at the remote sites to primary care physicians at the Centre's emergency department.
"This project is innovative", added Minister McLellan. "I am confident that it will benefit physicians and nurses, as well as provide greater accessibility and continuity of care to all Abitibi-Témiscamingue residents." Funding for this project originates from the Canada Health Infostructure Partnerships Programme (CHIPP), a two-year, $80 million federal programme announced by Minister Allan Rock in June 2000, along with the Government of Canada's rural health strategy.
With nurses at the remote sites manipulating a range of scopes, tests, and other medical equipment, the video and audio technology will enable the consulting physician to conduct real time "virtual examinations" for a variety of conditions including:
- skin lesions and rashes;
- asthma attacks;
- heart murmurs;
- blood irregularities; and
- eye problems.