The challenge of offering specialized services to people living in remote regions was the driving force behind this telehealth project in the Magdalen Islands. The hospital there was linked, principally by video conferencing, with specialists in hospitals in Quebec City and the Gaspé. The equipment permitted consultations about patient care and continuing education sessions for health care professionals in the Magdalen Islands. Transport to urban centres was avoided in a number of cases; occasionally, a decision to transport the patients was made after consultation. Both professionals and patients were generally satisfied with the process. The authors note that the project’s success was helped by the fortuitous arrival of a provincial telecommunications network for health and social services. It also built on previous telehealth experience and on existing hospital and doctor networks. The people responsible for implementation held key posts in their respective organizations and encouraged physician participation and consensual decision-making. The report identifies a number of challenges, particularly technological problems and difficulties related to physician remuneration.
This project was supported by the Health Transition Fund, which was created in 1997 to provide support for evidence-based decision-making in health care reform by supporting pilot and evaluation projects which test innovative approaches to health care delivery. The views expressed herein do no necessarily represent the official policy of federal, provincial, or territorial governments.