January 18, 2018
RVH Sleep services teams up with OTN to enhance patient care
On November 29, Renfrew Victoria Hospital’s sleep program officially launched Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) services at its new location, just in time for the first significant snowfall of the season.
OTN enables patients to access the care they need when and where they need it using digital technology.
RVH’s visiting Sleep Specialists, who are based in Ottawa, will no longer need to cancel their clinic appointments due to bad weather and unsafe travelling conditions. Instead they can use the system to 'meet' with their patients, which means no rescheduling of appointments.
"We were never able to do that so easily before," explains Melissa Gourley, Manager, RVH Sleep Program.
Having the service available in the Sleep services suite located in the new professional building at 100 Health Village Lane, means there is a much more simplified process for patients and clients—no figuring out where to go in the hospital, and then walking back to the Sleep Products store.
"It used to be a very confusing process, and now we have much better continuity of care," notes Gourley.
The RVH Sleep program has used OTN for the past six years and witnessed a growing need, but there was no space for the equipment in the previous Sleep Products location.
"The staff who make OTN possible at RVH have been fantastic to work with and have helped transition our OTN Sleep Clinic to its new location. It will now be easier for patients seen in our Telemedicine Sleep Clinic to arrange ongoing care appointments. The administrative staff and Sleep Technologists at RVH Sleep Products have been working very hard behind the scenes to make this all possible," notes Dr. Naomi Spitale, one of the visiting specialists.
Melissa Yolkowski, RVH's Registered Polysomnographer, is the OTN coordinator for the sleep services suite. She meets with all patients for their pre-assessment and sends their information off to the doctor. The patients then have their appointment using the video system and she is there to help follow-up with the physicians or assist the patients with scheduling their next appointment.
“Everything is connected through a fully secure video conferencing system,” notes Yolkowski.
Booking follow-up appointments or further testing is instant, as the patient just needs to walk out of the OTN suite a few steps to the secretaries to have them complete the request from the specialist.
"There is no more going back and forth between departments."
Yolkowski also offers reassurance that patients receive the same level of services with the use of video conferencing.
"The system is not impersonal. There is still the same level of support and high-quality care as they receive when they visit with Dr. Spitale or Dr. Block in person."
Marlene Kember recently used the OTN service to connect with a specialist and she agrees. “It’s like using FaceTime—you can see the specialist and their expressions. I was very pleased.”
“RVH continuously looks for opportunities to improve the care we provide to our patients. The new OTN clinic space in the Sleep Products location is a natural step to enhance our patients’ experience,” adds Julia Boudreau, RVH VP of Corporate Services.
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