Interprofessional team receives award for eHealth

February 24, 2015

A collaboration between nursing, dentistry and optometry has earned a group of individuals a national award for eHealth. The interprofessional team consisting of Jill Bally, Shelley Spurr, Lorna Butler, and Mark Tomtene (University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing), Ophthalmologist Dr. Shahab Khan, and Dr. Alyssa Hayes (University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry) are the proud recipients of the inaugural 2015 Faculty Interprofessional eHealth Award from Canada Health Infoway.

“In the Canadian North, 90 per cent of Aboriginal children develop early childhood oral issues,” said Bally. “A lack of early prevention often results in children having to leave their community and travel long distances for dental surgery. The federal government invested a million dollars to fly 120 Inuit children under the age of seven to urban centres for this surgery. Similarly, Aboriginal people living in Canada are among the highest risk populations for diabetes and related complications, such as eye disease. The College of Nursing believes no one should be disadvantaged by geography and as such, our team started down the path to develop a way to bring dental and vision care to the north through education.”

The College of Nursing has experience using robotics to deliver our undergraduate program to students in the north; this new project is an expansion of this technology. The Remote Presence robot uses USB powered intra-oral and ophthalmoscope cameras equipped with light attachments. High powered cameras and monitors positioned on the robot allow faculty from the Colleges of Nursing, Medicine and Dentistry located in an urban center to maneuver the robot freely, communicate directly and conduct assessments and health screenings with northern nursing students in real time as part of their pediatric practicum.

“The students who are part of this project learn to provide primary prevention, early care services and referrals to an interprofessional team, ensuring safe, high quality patient/family/community care,” said Bally. Additionally, Dr. Shelley Spurr pointed out, “A major outcome of using the Remote Presence in a northern, off-campus interprofessional setting such as this one, is the preparation of northern students to use the robots when they begin their practice. Remote Presence is a natural extension of current telehealth practices in rural and remote settings and has incredible potential to make quality health care more accessible in rural and remote locations.”

“Ensuring faculties are equipped with the resources needed to educate students to work collaboratively in today’s digital world is integral to providing quality patient care,” said Maureen Charlebois, Chief Nursing Executive & Group Director, Clinical Adoption, Canada Health Infoway. “I congratulate the faculty team for exemplifying collaboration and leadership, embracing the use of digital health tools and providing a pathway for students to learn within an interprofessional e-health setting that otherwise, wouldn’t exist.”

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About the Award
The Faculty Interprofessional eHealth Award is a component of the Canada Health Infoway’s “Clinical Engagement Strategy: Next Generation” and is in partnership with the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada (AFPC) and the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN). The focus of the network is aimed at enabling faculty to embrace a culture of change and transform how they educate students to provide patient-centered, interprofessional and collaborative care, in a technology-enabled environment.

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