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LHIN invests funding into telemedicine

The North West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) has invested $353,971 into telemedicine to improve access to quality health care for residents of Northwestern Ontario.

Fourteen organizations across the region will use the money to buy new telemedicine equipment or replace old equipment.

This includes $11,949 for the Rainy River Heath Centre to help with chronic disease prevention and management, oncology, and cardiac rehab and pain management, as well as $30,298 for the North West Community Care Access Centre to help with clinical, educational, and administrative services in Fort Frances, Dryden, Kenora, and Thunder Bay.

The North West LHIN’s investment in technology means more residents will be able to receive care as close to home as possible with modernized and up-to-date equipment.

It also means more supports in the community for seniors, fewer visits to the Emergency Department, and less travel time for patients from the north.

First introduced to Northern Ontario in 1998, telemedicine:

•improves access to health care across the region;

•reduces waiting times to see a doctor or specialist; and

•eliminates costly and time-consuming long distance travel.

The North West LHIN acknowledged the critical role played by the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) in facilitating more effective and efficient delivery of health care services to the region.

“The North West LHIN believes telemedicine is an essential service for the people of Northwestern Ontario,” said CEO Laura Kokocinski.

“This technology ensures that residents can continue to receive care as quickly, efficiently, and as close to home as possible,” she noted.

“OTN would like to commend the board of the North West LHIN for its decision to provide funding to support the replacement of ‘end of service’ equipment in the region,” noted Ontario Telemedicine CEO Dr. Ed Brown.

“This equipment has provided great benefit across the region over the past many years, but is now quite old and will go out of service on March 31,” he explained.

“The funding support from the LHIN will enable health-care organizations that are otherwise unable to replace the old equipment, to continue to provide care to the thousands of patients across the northwest that need and benefit from this service,” Dr. Brown added.

Last year, the use of telemedicine in the North West LHIN resulted in more than $9 million in avoided travel costs, and more than 23 million km in avoided patient travel.

There are 121 active OTN sites and 187 active systems in the northwest, representing 12 percent and nine percent, respectively, of the entire network.

Last year, Northwestern Ontario hosted 22,075 clinical events on the network.

For more information on the Ontario Telemedicine Network, visit www.otn.ca

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