Telehealth Making Headway in Southwestern Ontario

Grey Bruce Health Services (GBHS) recently announced that they will be expanding their Information Technology (IT) department to develop a server that can house the records of up to 2 million patients.

The IT department will expand to Orillia’s Soldier Memorial Hospital and Muskoka Algonquin Health Care’s hospitals in Huntsville and Bracebridge over the course of the next year. The server already manages data for 11 other hospitals in Grey and Bruce.

Why is this a big deal? As we learned earlier this year, Canadian patients travel millions of kilometers every year to gain access to healthcare, and in 2011, Canadians travelled 47 million less kilometers thanks to the country’s telehealth services.

“Electronic health records mean more to rural communities than a single large hospital,” says Rob Croft, GBHS chief information officer in an article in the Owen Sound Sun Times. “It’s more important for us to be able to share images, to share results, to consult with a specialist remotely, than it is if you were in a single building in downtown Toronto, because they can go upstairs and see a specialist. Our specialists are miles away, but yet they can still see the image, they can still see the test results and still consult on those.”

Having access to unique expertise without needing to travel saves time, money, and potentially lives. This is especially important for rural regions of Canada because there is so much distance between all the hospitals and different healthcare facilities.

The GBHS’ Owen Sound site will house the data and more than 5,000 users will have 24/7 access to it. The data will be comprised of lab and nurses’ reports, diagnostic imaging, orders, and patient registrations. This kind of information has been stored electronically by GBHS since the 1990s, and with this new expansion, even more patients in Southwestern Ontario will benefit from the specialized healthcare expertise across the region.

This technology growth also benefits the region’s workforce. The $2 million expansion will create 16 permanent jobs, and will surely grab the attention of other IT professionals and healthcare workers.

SWIFT loves that this kind of connectivity is making headway in Southwestern Ontario!