Digital Health Week in Canada is from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5 â a time to recognize and celebrate the steps taken to create a more connected and collaborative health system in Canada, including the use of telehealth and virtual health care.
November is also Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month, and the virtual care goal of USask’s interdisciplinary research team is to create more accessible healthcare pathways for people living with IBD.
Crohn’s disease and colitis both cause inflammation of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Damage to the digestive tract compromises the body’s ability to receive adequate nutrition, digest food, and eliminate waste.
The diseases are considered incurable and Canada has one of the highest incidence rates in the world.
âManaging this disease requires individuals to have repeated interactions with the health care system,â said Dr. Noelle Rohatinsky (PhD), registered nurse and associate professor at the College of Nursing and principal investigator of the project. âThe use of virtual care technologies is a strategy that allows better access to specialized providers. “
The study will examine the virtual care experiences of people living with IBD and the perspectives of gastroenterological healthcare providers in Saskatchewan using an online survey and interviews.
The research aims to assess the level of satisfaction of patients and healthcare providers when using virtual care technologies to treat and manage IBD. Understanding the experiences of both groups is integral to understanding how virtual healthcare can be improved in the future.
The project will also examine issues of patient access to appropriate technologies and the importance of providing equitable access to healthcare specialists.
âBy using virtual care, providers can intervene early, avoid direct costs to the healthcare system, and promote positive patient outcomes. “
The research team includes the co-principal investigator and assistant professor at the USask College of Medicine, Dr Juan-NicolÃ¡s PeÃ±a-SÃ¡nchez (MD, PhD), graduate student Jermia Foncham (Department of Community Health and epidemiology) and a team of nurses, doctors, IBD patients and a patient’s family member. All have used virtual care technologies for disease management.
âOur team will make suggestions to healthcare agencies to promote innovation and access to virtual care services to improve patient care experiences and virtual health service delivery for inflammatory bowel disease. in Saskatchewan, âRohatinsky said.
The project is supported by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation Innovation Grants program.
To learn more about Crohn’s disease and colitis, please visit https://crohnsandcolite.ca/.