Ontario Telemedicine Network
The Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) is part of Ontario Health, an agency created by the Government of Ontario with a mandate to connect and coordinate our province’s healthcare system to help ensure that Ontarians receive the best possible care. OTN is one of the largest telemedicine networks in the world, providing clinical care as well as the delivery of distance education for health care professionals and patients.
Whether using telephone, medical video conferencing through OTN, Zoom, MS Teams, or remote monitoring technologies, virtual care is in the forefront of health care and has not only improved the patient experience, but has provided a more patient-centric approach to care.
Dr. Ed Brown states in his OTN Blog:
‘…while the electronic health record world focuses on sharing and collecting data, virtual care focuses on the use of technology to support patients in the community and to deliver care directly to them. Used well, it improves access to care and can greatly enhance the patient experience.’
Let’s take a look at how one virtual care solution is keeping patients out of hospital.
Video: ConvergeHEALTH | MyPath™ for Hospital in Home: Remote Patient Monitoring Solution (4:37)
Use the links below to review the following Virtual Care articles.
- Virtual Care – The Front Door to Patient-Centred Care (March 2019)
- DAVID JIRKU (October 7, 2021): Opening the digital front door for patients
Next, take some time to explore how OTN helps to deliver seamless care to Ontario’s priority populations using a variety of virtual care solutions.
How are Telemedicine and Virtual Care Solutions Made Safe and Secure??
Taken from OTN.ca:
Ontario Health oversees health care delivery in the province and, as part of that role, is responsible for setting evidence-based standards that will enable front-line health care providers to provide secure and confidential virtual visits within their communities.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and OntarioMD, Ontario Health has developed provincial standards for virtual visits including:
- secure messaging
The purpose for setting these [verification] standards is to enable more choice for providers in selecting the virtual care solution that best meets their care delivery needs, while ensuring clinical encounters are secure and patient privacy is protected.
Ontario Health’s provincial standards for virtual visit solutions are intended to ensure virtual care services are delivered using safe, secure, and interoperable platforms. These were developed in consultation with health care organizations and clinicians across the province.
Benefits of Using Verified Solutions
- Confidence in virtual care solutions that meet provincial privacy, security, interoperability, and technical requirements
- Safeguarding of patient Personal Health Information (PHI)
- Provincial funding opportunities through the Ontario Health Digital & Virtual Care Secretariat program (use of a verified solution is a requirement for solutions using video or secure messaging)
- Other opportunities for provincial program funding
- Physicians are encouraged to use verified solutions when delivering video visits using the temporary virtual care fee codes (‘K-codes’) to submit claims to protect the safety and privacy of providers and patients.
Virtual Care is no longer a digital healthcare solution solely for connecting rural and remote communities to healthcare providers, but rather it is providing a new hybrid approach to patient care among the urban and remote continuum of care. Patients and Healthcare providers are more connected, and patients are becoming more in control of their healthcare.
Take some time to review what telemedicine or virtual care solutions are in use by clinicians in your own care setting. Reach out to a clinician who has used virtual care to discuss how they are using it and how it is impacting their work and patient care.
With more virtual care solutions emerging, there is evidence of less strain on hospitals and clinical settings with a reduced cost to care. Despite this, we continue to see a strain on nursing resources, staffing shortages, and an increase in workload requirements.
Automated Staff and Workload Systems
The following articles explore nursing staffing challenges along with workload data for staffing solutions. The idea of automated staffing systems which could use workload data to improve staff assignments may be an effective approach; although, it seems to require more review and potential development. It is an interesting challenge for nursing managers, not only TO establish enough resources for coverage but also to ensure that the right balance of skills are considered for safe patient care.
Take some time to review the following readings and explore what staffing challenges and tools are used by leadership in your own care setting.
- Development of a Nursing Assignment Tool Using Workload Acuity Scores
- Nursing workload, nurse staffing methodologies and tools: A systematic scoping review and discussion