First Nations Telehealth Expansion Project Summer 2014 Update


FN Telehealth Expansion Project (TEP)

Progress to Date:  

Summer 2014 Update

Over the past few months, the biggest priority for the First Nations Telehealth Expansion Project (FN TEP) team has been continuing engagement with the communities which have agreed to participate in Wave 1 of telehealth implementation.  Specifically this has involved completing readiness and needs assessment with communities in the Northern Region and on the Central Coast.
Northern Communities – Skin Tyee, Nee-tahi-buhn, Cheslatta Carrier
In early June, the FN TEP team traveled up to three communities on the south side of Francois Lake (Skin Tyee, Nee-tahi-buhn and Cheslatta Carrier) near Burns Lake.  Each of the three communities recently had their community connectivity upgraded which now enables high-speed internet access.   With this improved the connection and the future installation of videoconferencing equipment, the communities will be supported through the project to use telehealth for educational, wellness and administrative purposes such as attending UBC Learning Circle Sessions and participating in meetings with other communities around the province.
While in the area, the project team also met with staff working at the Southside Health and Wellness Centre.  The Centre, which is run in partnership between the three south side communities, Carrier Sekani Family Services and Northern Health Authority will be a hub for all clinical telehealth activity for the three south side communities.   Some of the services that the FN TEP team identified with the staff that could be delivered through telehealth include primary care, pre- and post-operative consults, chronic disease management mental health and addictions.


Central Coast Communities – Bella Bella and Klemtu
Later in June, the project team traveled up to the Central Coast with a member of the Vancouver Coastal Health telehealth team to visit Bella Bella and Klemtu. 
In Bella Bella, the community has had access to a variety of telehealth services in both the hospital and community health centre for the past few years.  The FN TEP team’s goals this trip were to understand the barriers and issues that need to be resolved in order to increase telehealth activity in the community and also to discuss additional services that the community would like access to through telehealth.
In Klemtu, the team spent the day with the Chief, Health Director and health staff to understand the services currently delivered in community, the gaps in services that could potentially be addressed through telehealth and assess the technical requirements that need to be in place to support telehealth.  Fortunately, Klemtu’s connectivity had been upgraded just days previous to the team’s arrival so high-speed internet is now available in the community.  Having improved connectivity will enable community members in Klemtu to have high-quality access to telehealth services such as mental health and addictions, primary care, chronic disease management and UBC Learning Circle sessions.

Advisory Committee
· Provide guidance to the project team on approaches to community engagement
· Seek advice and guidance from Committee members around the province with experience in implementing telehealth
Technical Working Group
· Find collaborative solutions across organizations to ensure communities can easily and seamlessly connect to service providers in Health Authorities across the province that are on different private networks
· Discuss and define technical standards and best practices for implementing telehealth technologies

Clinical Working Group
· Discuss issues in the clinical realm that pose barriers or issues to successful telehealth implementation
· Discuss and define best practice guidelines for telehealth service providers
Training Working Group
· Discuss the project’s approach to providing training tailored to various stakeholder groups involved in implementing telehealth with each community
· Develop training materials to address the training needs of each stakeholder group in the project
Building the Project Team
As the FN TEP team has been continuing with engagement work over the past few months, it has grown significantly to ensure telehealth is properly implemented in our communities and fully supported to ensure continued success.  In the past few months, the following positions have been filled: Project Director, Project Manager, Technical Lead, Clinical Lead and Privacy Analyst.  In the coming months, the team also plans on hiring a Telehealth Coordinator, Workflow and Data Analyst and Telehealth Scheduler.
The Telehealth Scheduler will work with communities and service providers to book clinical consults, educational sessions and business meetings across BC.
The Telehealth Coordinator will be the contact person for the recruitment of health care providers and specialists and for the promotion of the integration of telehealth services, through change management initiatives and training.  The Telehealth Coordinator will also ensure appropriate policies and procedures are in place, communicated and adher ed to, for local providers and users to support a consistent and high standard of care.
In order to ensure telehealth integrates seamlessly with daily health centre work, the Workflow and Data Analyst will work with communities to understand all clinical and business processes related to the provision of health care services in their health centres.
Next Steps
The next step in the journey towards telehealth implementation is a mapping and matching process. Through this process, the FN TEP team will work collaboratively with communities and service providers to identify appropriate and culturally relevant services that meet the unique needs of each community in Wave 1 of the project.  In cases where telehealth services don’t already exist that communities have requested, the FN TEP team will work with service providers to develop these programs
Starting in the fall, implementation will begin with the 46 communities in Wave 1 of the project.  This will involve installation of equipment and configuration of networks, but most importantly training health centre staff to use the telehealth equipment, schedule and coordinate new sessions, and adhere to privacy and security policies and procedures.
In the background, the FN TEP team will continue to build its internal support and scheduling processes to ensure that when telehealth is implemented it is a positive experience for communities.
If you have any questions about the project, please contact us at