Hi everyone, hope your summer is going well. I have made sure that I have a bit of time off, but for the most part, I have been working hard. I am very pleased to announce that my ability to see patients via telehealth has expanded dramatically.
I have had the privilege of using the Provincial telehealth network for years. We have equipment right in our office, that links to remote sites elsewhere in the province. Currently, I do regular clinics with Bella Bella and Bella Coola. One of my partners is going to join me, and we will expand service to the Sunshine Coast, later this year.
The equipment and connection quality is excellent, and we will hopefully be able to use remote technology to conduct a partial physical examination. We anticipate using a high definition portable camera to assess neck vein status, and an electronic stethoscope that will transit heart sounds to us via a Bluetooth connection to our computer.
This is fantastic technology that we look forward to using further. The one limitation is that it requires patients to come to their local hospital or health authority site.
I am excited to announce that we now also have the ability to conference with patients right from their home computer, tablet or smartphone. We are using a new service, Livecare, to enable secure video conferencing. We have had a couple of test runs, and had our first live patient visit today. It was extremely successful with good audio-visual quality, and both patient and provider found the experience extremely useful. It actually wasn’t me on the visit, but rather my nurse practitioner colleague Lana who runs our heart function clinic. Now I am jealous of her!
Livecare is extremely secure, beyond Skype and other videoconferencing technologies. No one can join the connection without an invitation and the quality of encryption is very high. It is a fully Canadian company, dedicated to telehealth, and no data goes through US or other foreign servers. It is extremely easy to use. When we book an appointment, we email the patient a link, which lets them join the visit from their computer, via a webpage, or from their smartphone or tablet, via an app.
Both Lana and I are extremely pleased to be able to offer this technology, when appropriate. We can’t see every patient this way – sometimes we need to see them in person for the physical examination, or to discuss an emotionally sensitive topic. But telehealth can be a good option for a lot of appointments. We look forward to more virtual consultations and follow up visits – both for the heart function clinic and my general cardiology practice – in the future!
It is very exciting to be able to offer this new technology. The power of this technology is that it can be used straight from your home, with an internet connection and appropriate equipment. Thus it is good both for remote locations, and for patients with mobility limitations who have difficulty coming into our office.
To learn more or sign up for the service, please visit the Livecare website at https://www.livecare.ca/. To book a telemedicine visit with Lana or myself, please contact our office. This service is covered by MSP for BC patients with a referral from a family physician or nurse practitioner.
Until next time,