Keewaytinook Okimakanak Telemedicine (KOTM) has developed a paper focused on and entitled Making First Nations Telemedicine Policy in Ontario. This paper was distributed at the Chiefs of Ontario meeting in Sioux Lookout this past week. We are sharing this paper in order to initiate a dialogue on how everyone can make Telemedicine available to all First Nations in Ontario.
First Nations Telemedicine services have been operating in Ontario since 2001. During that time, KO Telemedicine has worked directly with First Nations and their mandated health organizations to respond to community-based demand for access to these services. After implementing services throughout the Sioux Lookout Health Zone, in the Beausoleil First Nation on Christian Island and in the Weenusk First Nation in the western James Bay area, expansion of First Nations Telemedicine services has more or less ceased. Still, we regularly receive requests from communities to gain access to this service. The Telehealth/Telemedicine Service Model presented in this paper needs to be a supported priority in all the remote and rural NAN First Nations due to their lack of immediate medical services. This effort is a critical component of this work.
KO knows that continuing to expand services to northern and isolated communities and eventually to all Ontario First Nations will require collaboration among First Nations and their health and political organizations in addition to federal and provincial system stakeholders. Everyone needs to be discussing how we might work together to bring Telemedicine services to First Nations throughout Ontario.
The Making Telemedicine Policy for Ontario document is very timely in light of Health Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) interest in distributing recently announced e-health funding in this fiscal year for Telemedicine expansion that would be integrated into the provincial telehealth syste. As well, Infoway has also expressed an interest in matching these investments within provincial jurisdictions.
Click on the document to view these PDF files: