ePoster Presentation

(EP-153) Hello from the Other Side: Impact Remote Presence Technology Has on Rural and Remote Nurses

Sunday, April 23
5:15 PM - 5:30 PM
Location: Experience Zone - ePosters

Canadians living in rural and remote communities have increased barriers to healthcare services. Providing universal and accessible healthcare to the people residing in rural and remote settings can be difficult. A distance of 50km or more from tertiary healthcare centers' has been shown to have a negative impact on health outcomes. Patients who require specialist care typically have to travel to urban settings to receive the necessary care, resulting in an increase burden on the patient and can come at a greater cost to the healthcare. This 'distance decay' can result in fewer services being offered, fewer services being available, and fewer services being utilized resulting in altered standards of care. Furthermore, by the time rural or remote patients access care, their condition tends to be more urgent, compared to the acuity levels seen with their urban counterparts. Using remote presence technology is one approach that can improve access to health for people living in rural and remote settings.

An abundance of literature exists demonstrating the feasibility of physicians and specialists providing high quality and cost effective healthcare services to distant sites using remote presence technology. Remote presence technology allows local nurses in rural and remote communities to connect with physicians and specialists in real-time to diagnose and collaboratively manage and treat patients, often reducing the need to transfer the patient out of the community. Patient outcomes are often improved because of the earlier initiation of interventions, and by remaining in the community, it is less disruptive for the patient and their family. The decrease in preventable transfers and hospitalizations has significant savings to the health care system.

Largely missing from the literature is the voice of the nurses involved in the care from the peripheral sites. Nurses working in rural and remote communities can experience many benefits from using remote presence technology, including decreased professional isolation; improved communication, trust and relationship with specialists; mentorship; and an increased capacity to manage more challenging care in the community. On the other hand, it is important to note that by treating and managing the patient in the community, the burden of care is transferred to the nurses. This process can dramatically increase the workload of the nurses. It is vital to engage nurses in the planning and implementation of remote presence initiatives, and involve them in research to ensure their experiences are captured and reflected in the literature.

The use of remote presence technology to provide healthcare services could be a key factor for the healthcare system to enhance equitable access to care for populations that traditionally have had many barriers to receive the appropriate healthcare services. The evidence supports that it is safe, effective, and very cost efficient. Policy makers need to be aware of the increased burden this process can have on the nurses from the rural and remote sites. Reinvesting some of the savings back into the community could enhance the local capacity to manage the increased workload and mitigate some of the burden faced by the nurses.

Learning Objectives:

Rachel J. Johnson

Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
University of Saskatchewan; Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation

Rachel is a Nurse Practitioner working in Pelican Narrows, Saskatchewan. Originally from the Toronto area, Rachel attained her BScN from McMaster University. Shortly after completeing her undergraduate degree, on a bit of a whim she moved to South Africa and worked for 3 years in an AIDS treatment centre is a rural village. She returned to Toronto in 2009, and continued her work in HIV before tranisitioning into primary health care working at an inner-city clinic. Rachel moved to northern Saskatchewan in early 2014 and completed her Nurse Practitioner Certificate later that same year. Since then she has been enjoying her challenging new role working with a great team at the Angelique Canada Health Centre in Pelican Narrows. Rachel is interested in using innovation to improve access to care for under-serviced populations, and is currently working on her Masters of Nursing through the University of Saskatchewan with this as the focus of her thesis.


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(EP-153) Hello from the Other Side: Impact Remote Presence Technology Has on Rural and Remote Nurses

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