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More Than 100 Telehealth Sites Bring Health-care Service Closer to Home

News Release – Manitoba
April 14, 2011

The number of Manitoba Telehealth sites has officially passed the 100-site mark, bringing health-care services closer to home for rural and northern families, Health Minister Theresa Oswald announced today.

“Telehealth provides health-care services to families in every corner of the province that at one time were only offered in urban centres,” the minister said. “This service reduces the stress and expense for patients and their loved ones because they can be treated at health facilities where they live and don’t have to travel long distances to get care.”MBTelehealth uses live, interactive video conferencing via a high-speed, secure link to support the delivery of specialized health-care services, continuing education and administrative connections between urban, rural and northern communities across Manitoba. Nearly 25 per cent of Manitoba Telehealth sites are in First Nations communities, in partnership with Health Canada.

More than 200 specialists provide services in over 60 different specialty areas as varied as oncology, dermatology and renal health. Specialized equipment connected to the system allows physicians to listen to a person’s lungs over the network with a digital stethoscope, or zoom in on a skin condition with a patient camera, enabling thorough assessments along with one-on-one communication.

In addition to benefits for patients and their families, MBTelehealth’s teleconferencing allows health‑care staff to attend training sessions and meetings remotely. This feature saves the health system almost $1 million annually in staff time and travel expenses, which is redirected to patient care, the minister noted.

“With our wide geography, there are huge benefits to bringing services closer to home,” said Liz Loewen, director, co-ordination of care for MBTelehealth, a program administered by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. “The availability of Telehealth can allow an earlier transition for patients returning to their communities following hospital stays in Winnipeg, as well as better discharge planning and followup. It also improves the likelihood of early diagnosis and treatment.”

MBTelehealth, a nationally recognized award winning provincial program which is administered by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, was used more than 10,000 times in the 2010-11 fiscal year, and more than 59,000 times since its inception in 2001.

More information on MBTelehealth is available at www.mbtelehealth.ca.

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