Lakeridge Health is trying to help surgery patients recover in their own homes, rather than a hospital bed.
It’s doing so through the use of an app that connects people with their health care providers remotely.
“I have a hard time breathing at times,” said John Matser, a patient in the remote monitoring program.
Matser has been having issues with his lungs since 2015.
“I was in the hospital every other month with pneumonia,” Matser said.
But since being introduced to remote healthcare, the 81-year-old is already seeing a benefit.
“They taught me how to breathe, how to get more oxygen into my lungs. So now if I really start labouring for air, I know that my lungs are starting to fill up,” Matser said.
The virtual program has lessoned Matser’s hospital visits to only one in the last year and now some Durham residents who receive select surgeries at Lakeridge Health can also spend more time at home because of remote surgical monitoring.
“We were actively exploring virtual care options even before the pandemic but certainly since then, we looked at it much more aggressively by necessity,” said Dr. John Dickie, Lakeridge Health Chief and medical director of surgery.
In the new program, patients will communicate their symptoms through an app with a home and community care nurse seven days a week.
“We have designed it to try and bring out possible complications of the surgery, common issues after surgery,” Dr. Dickie said.
“Not every patient is appropriate to discharge to home but where it can safely be done, we would use this almost as a standard,” said Renato Discenza, Ontario Health East transitional regional lead.
It’s a collaboration between the Central East LHIN, Lakeridge Health, and Ontario Health. The Remote Surgical Monitoring program will be offered to suitable patients undergoing thoracic (lung and esophageal resections), orthopedic (same-day total hip and knee arthroplasty), and laparoscopic gynecologic-oncology surgeries.
Lakeridge Health started using the virtual program a couple of weeks ago. The goal is to be able to have 1,000 patients utilizing the service a year.
“This is all about augmenting the reach of practitioners so that doctors can see more patients and so that nurses can deal with more patients and extend our capacity,” Discenza said.
As for Matser, every day for six months there was a checklist of things he needed to do.
While he finished the program in June, he still records his blood pressure and oxygen levels.
To learn more about the program you can visit the Lakeridge Health website.