The 2019 recipient of Health P.E.I.’s Leadership Excellence in Quality and Safety Award will use the financial portion of the prize to further training in virtual health care.
Western Hospital in Alberton received the award and a $4,000 donation for professional development in the area of quality and safety, for its work in pioneering "tele-rounding", a healthcare model where patients who do not have a doctor are seen by physicians virtually through a secure internet connection.
"This is one of many applications where virtual care fits,” said Paul Young, administrator of Community Hospitals West and a member of the team that pioneered tele-rounding.
“We’re entering a pretty exciting age of digital transformation,” he said, adding that there are opportunities through training programs to not only strengthen existing programs but to look at areas to complement and support the existing system in other aspects of digital transformation.
In announcing Western Hospital during Health P.E.I.’s annual meeting as the award recipient, Andrea Slysz, chair of the board’s quality and safety committee, said tele-rounding has helped stabilize services at the rural hospital. Tele-rounding has been so successful, she said the program is currently being considered and reviewed by all provinces and territories in Canada to see how it fits into their systems.
“I can still remember when this discussion was initially proposed with our management team at Western Hospital. The eyebrows raised and the questions of, ‘You want to do what? And by when?’ started. And here we are,” said Young when he accepted the award on behalf of the implementation team.
Young said the hospital was faced with threats to the continuity of services if it could not resolve its physician shortage issues. He added this year the region has recruited two new doctors.
Young said tele-rounding came together with the hands-on involvement of a 25-member local and provincial steering committee and the overall involvement of around 100 people.
“In the spring of 2018, over a period of 12 weeks, the model was conceptualized, the consultations were completed, processes were developed, the infrastructures were built, we had our technology tested, our training plans were developed and our implementation plan was engineered, and I am so proud that this incredible team did this in less than 90 days to make this happen, not because they wanted to, but because we had to, for the patients and for our community,” he told those in attendance for Health P.E.I.’s annual meeting.
"For the first time in this country, a rural hospital now had the means to access the technology and the resources to change the course of our history.”
The professional development component of the prize, Young said, “gives us a great steppingstone when the right educational opportunity presents itself.”
Western Hospital’s tele-rounding team also receives a provincial plaque to display for a year as well as another plaque to permanently display.
Earlier this year, Western Hospital’s tele-rounding program was the recipient of the provincial government’s innovation award. Slyzs noted the program was also nominated for several national awards.
Approximately 90 per cent of the Western Hospital’s in-patients have been seen by tele-rounding physicians and there have been approximately 5,000 virtual consults completed in the past 15 months.