NC – Ontarians are getting seen in the emergency room more quickly and their visits are getting shorter, according to the provincial advisor on healthcare quality, and that’s good news.
The challenge is that capacity will be an increasing issue as our population continues to get older and sicker.
Nine out of 10 patients were seen by a doctor in the ER within three hours in 2014-2015, according to Under Pressure: Emergency Department Performance in Ontario, a recently released report by Health Quality Ontario (HQO). That translates to a 16 per cent decrease from 2014-15.
Dr. Joshua Tepper, CEO of HQO, notes that while we can take pride in the improvements, the next step toward making progress in meeting increasing patient needs may require a complete re-think. This is especially true in light of the fact that people over age 65 — who typically need more complex care — make up 22 per cent of ER users.
One initiative that has cut down on ER use in the province is Telehomecare,
a program of the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). The program puts simple vital sign monitoring technology in the hands of patients coping with chronic conditions like congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Telehomecare, which is available across most of Ontario, has resulted in a reduction in unnecessary emergency room visits and hospital admissions by more than 50 per cent. And that means less worry and stress for patients and their families.
Coupled with health coaching by phone, the program empowers patients to better manage their own health. It also enables them to identify when their condition may be worsening and what steps to take.
To find out more about Telehomecare, call 1.855.991.8191 or visit www.ontariotelehomecare.ca.