Telehealth3UHN's Lung Transplant Program has reached a milestone in delivering care to patients who live far away after completing its 1,000th telehealth visit. Starting this month, Lung Transplant will offer UHN Telehealth services for follow-up care to transplant patients in Ontario who are more than two years post-transplant. 

"In 2002, we introduced Telehealth into our program, and quickly realized the benefits for patients," says Dr. Lianne Singer, Medical Director, Lung Transplant Program, UHN. "Telehealth has since become routine for pre-transplant consultations. To expand access of this valuable service to post-transplant patients who are followed by our program and their local care providers, we've taken the pioneering step of hiring a dedicated Telehealth Coordinator, Meny Davies, and an Administrative Assistant, Jane Duerr, within our program." 

This initiative is partially funded by a grant from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's Academic Health Sciences Centre Alternate Funding Plan Innovation Fund. The program will also track outcomes of assessments and the time and costs saved by remote patients. 

Telehealth2UHN Telehealth brings patients and health providers face-to-face through live videoconferencing, and uses telediagnostic devices, such as digital stethoscopes, that attach to computers to enhance the interactive virtual consultation. 

The goal of the expanded partnership between UHN's Lung Transplant and Telehealth programs is to further reduce barriers and leverage health care services for patients who live a significant distance from the hospital. UHN's Lung Transplant Program is unique in the world with its use of videoconferencing consultations over a wide geographic area, including patients from all over Ontario, and as far as BC and Newfoundland through Telehealth.

For Lauren Childerhose, a 21-yearold cystic fibrosis patient who lives in Kingston, the remote access was invaluable. Lauren had several appointments scheduled before her transplant, so using Telehealth meant she didn't have to make the six-hour round trip to Toronto each time. 

Telehealth1"It was difficult to take time off work and school to get to my appointments in Toronto, but I used Telehealth at least six times before my transplant," says Lauren, who received a lung transplant at TGH in 2007. "Telehealth was great because both of my parents could be involved in my visits." Lauren will soon reach her two-year post-transplant mark, at which point she'll receive all her follow-up assessments via Telehealth. Currently, there are approximately 150 patients in Ontario who qualify for remote follow-up after their lung transplant.

So, what does the future of UHN Telehealth technology look like? Improved broadcast quality through high-definition monitors and increased network bandwidth will enhance the existing medium, while secure web-based videoconferencing will soon open up opportunities for patient access directly from their homes. Also, projects to advance care access and coordination through integration of telepathology, teleradiology, and the electronic patient record will allow seamless delivery of quality care.​​​​

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