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Hospital without walls? Health P.E.I. team looking at applying remote patient monitoring in West Prince region

Paul Young, administrator at Community Hospitals West
Paul Young, administrator at Community Hospitals West - Contributed
ALBERTON, P.E.I. —

A new concept aimed at keeping seniors in their homes longer is being tested in western P.E.I.

“I can’t wake up every morning and look at the same problem the same way,” said Paul Young, administrator of Community Hospitals West.  

Young had just given an explanation of a Hospitals Without Walls initiative that Health P.E.I. is developing in the West Prince region with funding support from the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), a Toronto-based solution accelerator for the aging and brain health sector.

“CABHI’s programs and services fill a critical need across the healthcare sector in Ontario, across Canada, and around the world,” said Dr. Allison Sekuler, Managing Director of CABHI.

“Our work together with innovators and our health-care partners makes a genuine difference, enhancing the lives of older adults at risk for and living with dementia, and their caregivers," said Sekuler.

"CABHI-supported solutions improve health, increase the effectiveness and efficiency of our health care systems, and grow Canadian innovation.” 

The West Prince project will investigate whether the existing remote patient monitoring program, which is used in P.E.I. for patients with COPD and congestive heart failure, and across the country in other fashions, can also be applied here to help frail seniors stay in their homes rather than care facilities. 

Young said an engaged team is working on something that hasn’t been approached this way before.

"(It) has an ability for us to extend the reach of our facility into the community and with the hopes, if successful, we have maybe another way that we can effectively support a marginalized population and explore the ‘spreadability’ of that, not only across the province but across the country.”

Young said the concept aims to expand or leverage capacity outside of the hospital into the community.

“We had the idea of, essentially, taking what has been around for a while, RPM … and using it for something completely different, in a way that we could support our senior, frail elderly population at home by providing them with monitoring equipment connected into a provider in the hospital that could monitor some of their daily vitals and create a pathway of communication between the patient and their family and a hospital staff member.”

Projects already being pioneered in West Prince, like telerounding at Western Hospital and virtual health care in Tignish, provide an extra layer of credibility to this new initiative, Young said.

“I’m fortunate up this way that we have a really dynamic management team and a very engaged frontline staff that is willing to take a leap of faith and do things a little bit differently and are open and constantly problem-solving and throwing some really creative ideas at the wall.”

The 12-month project started the first of November.

Young said the project team is hopeful it can achieve positive outcomes, but first must test its hypothesis. 

“When you have that type of culture and support behind you, it really creates a really great environment to start to say, ‘Okay, guys, considering how we’ve approached this in the past and where we’re going with health care, how do we look at this differently?’”

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