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Centennial fuels growth of telehomecare

Centennial College is leading a unique team of hospital and community health-care providers aimed at advancing e-health and e-learning in the field of telehomecare.

The $2.3-million East York Telehomecare project will link 200 East York homes through the use of technology, to permit patients with chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure, diabetes and chronic lung disease to be served by health-care and community care professionals. A primary goal of the project is to assess whether using telehomecare will provide better health care outcomes and less overall costs to the health-care system.
Telenurse Kristen Desouza talks to John Langworthy (on the screen), a chronically ill patient who remains comfortably at home while Desouza checks his vital signs using telehomecare technology. Centennial College is the e-training partner in the East York Telehomecare pilot project, which will link 200 homes to telenurses. (Photo, Stephanie Lake)

Telehomecare will allow patients to access health-care services 24 hours a day without needing to leave their homes. Health-care providers are able to manage changes in a patient's health status in a timely manner, without arranging for transportation to a health-care facility or conducting in-home visits.

In addition, the project will use the results of interaction between patients and health and community care providers to create online learning materials for doctors, nurses, community care managers and others working in the area of telehomecare. The online course will use real-time video broadcasting technologies to enable health-care team members to communicate with each other as they learn together. Interactive clinical simulations will help practitioners gain experience in various aspects of telehomecare.

Major partners working with Centennial on this project include Toronto East General Hospital, the East York Access Centre, Comcare Health Services, Clinidata (Ontario Telehealth) and Centre Hospitalier Anna-Laberge located in Montreal, Que. The project was funded by Canarie (Industry Canada) and the Ontario Innovation Trust (Ministry of Economic Development and Trade).

"Telehomecare is still relatively new, so there are very few formal training programs for healthcare providers working in this area," said Richard Johnston, president of Centennial College. "Centennial has the only Nursing Telepractice post-graduate certificate program that is online. This project will enable us to extend the reach and scope of this program to include communications principles and education for all healthcare practitioners involved in telehomecare. As a result, Centennial will remain at the forefront in the emerging field of telehomecare training."

By engaging all health-care practitioners in this project, and by enabling the development of communities of practice that bridge institutional boundaries, the project will develop the necessary multi-level educational programs needed for the smooth delivery of telehomecare services.

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