Closing the distance for patients from First Nations communities
Unless properly managed, diabetes can lead to significant health issues, including amputations, vision loss, kidney failure and cardiovascular complications. Many people living in remote and rural communities, most notably First Nations communities in Northwestern Ontario, have limited access to healthcare due to travelling distances to hospitals.
“The distance to Sioux Lookout from some of our northernmost communities is like flying to Sioux Lookout from Toronto. That’s how far some of our clients have to fly to get to Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre,” says Chris Young, Clinical Informatics Specialist at Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC). “Most clients don’t have road access to drive here during the spring, summer and fall months.”
SLMHC provides health services to approximately 30,000 people living in 28 First Nations communities and four southern communities including Sioux Lookout, Hudson, Pickle Lake and Savant Lake and is addressing the challenge with support from the Health Technologies Fund (HTF).
Together with their technology partner Reliq Health Technologies and their iUGO Care platform, the hospital equips diabetes clients with an easy-to-use digital health solution for remote client monitoring and secure communication among all members of a client’s circle of care, including family members and health care providers.
This allows diabetes clients to receive state-of-the-art care in their homes, improving health outcomes, minimizing complications and reducing the cost of care delivery.
Both SLMHC staff and their clients are excited about being able to communicate in real-time. “The buy-in has been huge and positive,” Young says. “This has been embraced with open arms.”