Message from OTN CEO Ed Brown
It has been a remarkable year for telemedicine and for the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). Virtual health care delivery continues to grow both in scope and adoption. New and innovative technologies are evolving and, perhaps more importantly, telemedicine is fast becoming a normalized care delivery option within Ontario’s health care system.
The technological and digital revolution, clinical advances and demographic shifts are putting pressures and demands on our system that – without transformative and innovative interventions – will outpace the system’s ability to respond. At OTN we provide the tools, programs and services that transform the way they deliver care and enable them to better serve patients, productively build their practices and meet their organizational goals. For those working to transform health care into a sustainable system providing effective and equitable care for all, it has been a good news year.
Connecting to providers and caring for patients through OTN’s made-in-Ontario innovative care delivery systems, for example, has enhanced access to care, enabled chronic disease management in the home and even saved lives, through our Provincial Telestroke program. Last year alone, OTN supported more than 390,000 patient consultations, working with 1,300 health care organizations and more than 8,000 health care providers in 1,748 sites across Ontario. Across Ontario almost 260 million kilometers of patient travel was avoided by using telemedicine. That represents nearly 330 trips to the moon and back!
Partnering with First Nations communities has always been a priority for OTN. Many First Nations living on-reserve in remote communities have substantial challenges accessing primary care, specialists or urgent care. Telemedicine has the power to have a tremendous impact on the well-being of these people. This past year, in partnership with the Trilateral First Nations Health Senior Officials Committee (TFNHSOC) Mental Health Working Group, OTN deployed 30 telemedicine systems to First Nations communities to support specific programs and First Nations priorities.
Connecting doctors and other health care providers to patients and each other via videoconference from the convenience of their personal computers has proven effective and efficient. This year, OTN supported more than 139,204 videoconference events through personal computers.
OTN’s Telehomecare program enabled remote monitoring and self-management coaching for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) in their own homes. Delivered through Local Health Integration Networks, Telehomecare is a highly successful OTN program for patients and for the system, and has resulted in an approximately 50% reduction in hospital admissions and Emergency Room visits among this group of patients.
These innovations and initiatives — the result of the passion and dedication of our employees and partners — have delivered new ways to connect the people of Ontario with the right care at the right time and in the right way.
Through it all, OTN remains dedicated to its core values and its commitment to make telemedicine a mainstream channel for better health care delivery. As Canadians, we are proud of having one of the best health care systems in the world. OTN is committed to enabling our partners, health care providers and patients alike to build the Ontario health care system of the future, today.
And today, it looks like the stars are aligning. We have a universally shared vision of an affordable, sustainable and patient-centric system. We have the technology to do it. The patients are ready, innovative solutions are at our doorstep, and if we can make it simple and practical through policy and business models, health care providers will embrace it and lead us forward.
Necessity and opportunity have arrived together. We actually can create a better way to deliver care. OTN’s growth and success to date is just the beginning of what is yet to come.
As you will read throughout otnresults.ca, but specifically in Year in Review, we have surpassed our expectations and found new ways to provide health care using telemedicine. We ask you to join us in this exciting journey.
Who is OTN?
OTN is a not-for-profit organization funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care charged with building a sustainable and responsive virtual care system.