Feds fund northern telehealth services

More of northern Ontario’s doctors will be able to use video-conferencing technologies and medical instruments, such as digital stethoscopes and patient examination cameras, to examine a patient as if they were on site, thanks to $8.5 million of federal funding announced recently.

Health Canada said it is investing the money into the Northern Ontario Remote Telecommunications Health (NORTH) Network as part of its continuing efforts to improve health care for rural and remote communities. The funding will allow NORTH Network to move into its second phase of implementation, greatly increasing the number of sites where telehealth services will be available to northern Ontario residents and organizations. These telehealth services will allow distance access to over 30 medical specialities, offer health education activities, and create a framework for the delivery of telemedicine for a number of First Nations communities. Using video-conferencing technologies and medical instruments such as digital stethoscopes and patient examination cameras, health professionals in distant cities will be able to examine a patient as if he/she were on site, eliminating distance as a barrier to health care for residents of northern Ontario, Health Canada said.