Questions By Members, 9 December 2016
Source: Legislative Assembly of PEI

Telemedicine

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

According to the 2015 Canadian TeleHealth Report, Prince Edward Island lags far behind most other Canadian provinces on the adoption of telemedicine services.

Question to the Minister of Health and Wellness: What is your department doing to bring modern telemedicine services to Prince Edward Island?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Health and Wellness.

Mr. Henderson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Actually, telehealth is a modern use of technology that we can use and utilize within our health care system, and in fact we actually do utilize telehealth. I think there’s a telehealth service that’s in Western Hospital and I believe Souris Hospital too, but I’d stand corrected.

But I know there are a number of facilities that do use that, and that allows physicians to access other services and consult with other physicians in other locations on a particular patient’s issue, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, your first supplementary question.

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Local health services are indeed a critical factor in developing and maintaining vibrant rural communities and by making better use of telemedicine we have a really big opportunity to improve access to health care services in rural areas and keep rural health facilities open, and basically just generally improve the well-being of Islanders in our rural communities.

Question to the minister: What do you think are the barriers to implementing telemedicine more widely in rural Prince Edward Island?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Health and Wellness.

Mr. Henderson: As I said, Mr. Speaker, we do utilize telehealth services.

We do have some facilities. We do not have all six of our facilities accessible to Telehealth. I guess ultimately the barriers to that would be the financial resources and trying to stretch the resources that we have with all the asks that we get in our department.

But telehealth is something that we see as an advantage to rural health care facilities and, once again, we will continue to look at utilizing those services.

I might reiterate that if we do have one facility that has telehealth in one region or whatever, it doesn’t mean that other physicians can’t access that service. It’s just a matter of how far people want to drive to get that service, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, your second supplementary.

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A barrier I don’t believe should be financial because the long-term savings to the health care system in more fully implementing telemedicine would be enormous, so it’s sort of a – it would be a wonderful investment.

I’ll tell you what the real barrier is, it’s reliable broadband Internet access. That’s what the real problem is in delivering modern telemedicine services to all of rural Prince Edward Island.

Since responsibility for rural broadband, of course, falls with the hon. Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, your two departments would have to collaborate in order to make this work properly.

Telemedicine interdepartmental meetings

Can I ask you, minister, how many meetings you or your staff have had with their counterparts in the Department of Economic Development and Tourism to explore the opportunities that better broadband connectivity could create for the delivery of rural health services in PEI?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Health and Wellness.

Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, our department has had consultations to deliver more high-tech services to our facilities across Prince Edward Island.

One of them is the implementation of Wi-Fi in all our hospitals across the province. Some of those facilities access that through community service. I believe Souris got the – the Lion’s Club played a role in helping with that.

Once again, we have the chance to consult at Cabinet and caucus to talk about the issues when it comes to rural broadband services, and it is a limitation in some cases, but we still access all those services as best we can, Mr. Speaker.

 

One Comment

  1. rebootbill 14 December 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Much like delayed healthcare is no healthcare, slow broadband tele- medicine in rural areas is no healthcare.

     

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