Improving Rural Care
Canadians with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that receive care from gastroenterologists have better outcomes, including lower risk of surgery or unplanned hospitalizations. However, individuals that live in rural areas may have a hard time getting cared for by a gastroenterologist. For many that do find a gastroenterologist, they have to travel far to attend their appointment.
In 2016, Dr. Geoffrey Nguyen and his team at Sinai Health System started a pilot test of an IBD telemedicine program in Ontario through the Ontario Telemedicine Network. The goal was to show this solution could improve health outcomes by connecting Canadians with IBD living in rural areas with a gastroenterologist at an IBD centre of excellence.
Telemedicine involves connecting a patient with their healthcare provider through a secure online video. Additionally, individuals who use telemedicine have access to a team at an IBD Centre of Excellence that includes not only a gastroenterologist, but also surgeons, nurses, dietitians, social workers, and other specialists.
In 2021, Dr. Nguyen’s team is growing the telemedicine network to include additional IBD centres. IBD nurses will lead the expansion of the program and facilitate virtual care in underserviced regions in these provinces.
Early results suggest a national telemedicine program may:
- reduce wait times to see a gastroenterologist;
- minimize the trouble, stress and cost related to travelling to an IBD centre for appointments;
- decrease the number of people who need to stay in the hospital to receive care;
- lower the number of emergency room visits;
- increase satisfaction with the care given;
- improve the quality of life for individuals living with IBD; and
- improve health outcomes.
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Donations to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada allow the PACE network to carry on its vital work and continue to find solutions to improve IBD care.
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The PACE network is supported by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada and our funding partners: