Submitted by Jude Kornelson, Centre for Rural Health Research
The challenge to access specialists for patients in rural and remote communities is a growing concern for physicians and patients. When a patient requires complex care that exceeds the scope of primary care practitioners, referral or transfer is the only option. In obstetrics, this means that women with high risk pregnancies must travel to the nearest specialist centre to receive care, even for non-emergent situations.
The Mobile Maternity(MoM) project, recently launched in the Kootenay Boundary region in the south west part of BC, aims to bring care closer to home. Using mobile devices, patients in rural communities will be able to video conference with obstetrician Dr. Shiraz Moola at his practice in Nelson for emergent and routine consultations. This research project, supported by Jude Kornelsen and the Centre for Rural Health Research at UBC and funded by the Specialist Services Committee of the Doctors of BC, will analyze the impacts on health outcomes and effectiveness of telehealth for maternity patients over the next two years.
In some instances, patients are unable or choose not to travel due to a combination of financial and/ family constraints or significant challenges associated with remote geographical locations. Emerging evidence reflects the physiologic morbidities and the substantial cost for both mothers and newborns who need to travel significantly to access care. Further, rural family physicians and midwives have expressed the need for a more collaborative maternity-care infrastructure, whether or not they do planned local deliveries. Key to the pilot project for Dr. Moola is to have tripartite consultations inclusive of care providers and the patient for shared care planning and transfer of knowledge.
The project goals are to:
- understand the elements of relationships between general practitioners (GP) and specialist physicians (SP);
- improve collegiality between the service providers;
- develop models of collaboration, embrace new technologies, service models, and payment modalities;
- foster patient self-management and reduce unnecessary burden on the patient and their family.