Kaori Noguchi was sure she had misheard when the staff member scheduling her hip replacement surgery at Women’s College Hospital told her she would be sent home just a few hours after the procedure.
“So I double-checked and was told ‘yes, you will go home the same day,’” recalls Noguchi, a Toronto-based hospitality and catering industry manager who has had two operations to replace both hips over the last year at Women’s College Hospital. “I was shocked.”
What made it possible for Noguchi to check in at the hospital at 8 a.m. and be back in her own bedroom by 4 p.m. the same day? An iPad loaded with an app that securely delivered relevant treatment and care information – including how she could manage pain and other symptoms after her surgery – as well as round-the-clock access to her care team at Women’s College Hospital.
This novel approach to pre- and post-operative care at Women’s College Hospital is part of the hospital developing the country’s first virtual hospital. For Noguchi, it meant a world of difference to spend less time in the hospital and be able to recover at home.
[technology-enabled care] can let patients speak to their physicians without having to book time off work, find childcare or pay for expensive parking.— Heather McPherson president and CEO of Women’s College Hospital
“I’m not able to drive right now, so being able to manage my care and have follow-ups at home has been so convenient and reassuring,” she says. “Using the (virtual care) app is as easy as using your mobile phone. The app already had my medical protocol pre-loaded, and it even has an alert that dings to remind me to take my medications. That’s so useful because sometimes I sleep through my meds schedule or sometimes I just forget.”
Consulting with her care team through the app’s video conferencing function is as thorough as an in-person follow-up, notes Noguchi. Through the app, a nurse can assess things like proper wound healing, pain management and her general well-being.
Developing these kinds of virtual care offerings also aligns well with Women’s College Hospital’s commitment to providing truly equitable and accessible care. Virtual care can improve access for people who face barriers getting the health-care services they need.
“In addition to making health services more manageable for each patient,” says Heather McPherson, president and CEO of Women’s College Hospital, “technology-enabled care can also provide people living in remote communities better access to the care they need. It can let patients speak to their physicians without having to book time off work, find childcare or pay for expensive parking. As we develop our virtual models of care, we will be delivering solutions to help make Canada’s health system more efficient, effective and accessible for everyone – and this is just the beginning.”
Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.