The North East Local Health Integration Network is a big believer in using advances in technology to bring health care closer to people’s homes and 2018 was no exception.

Jeremey Stevenson, who is the CEO of the North East LHIN, says at more than 565,000 square kilometres, it can be challenging delivering health services in the northeast.

However, Stevenson says technology has made that job easier.

One area where the North East LHIN leads all other LHINs is the use of Telemedicine through the Ontario Telemedicine Network.

This is where patients are connected with health providers using two-way video conferencing technology.

The North East LHIN used this mode of health service 117,000 times last year which is the highest usage rate across Ontario.

Another department that recorded very high usage rates was the eConsult.

This is where a family doctor or nurse practitioner gets advice from a specialist about a patient’s care using a secure web page.

The consult can take place anywhere across the province eliminating the need for the patient to visit the specialist.

During 2018, the North East LHIN used this mode of communication more than 4,700 making it one of the largest users in the system.

The North East LHIN is also a big user of the virtual care program known as Tele-homecare.

Under this program, a nurse oversees 539 patients with heart-related conditions using remote monitoring set up in their respective homes.

In addition to the monitoring, the nurse provides regular health coaching sessions.

The result is a nearly 78 percent drop in hospital admissions for people in this group and about an 80 percent drop in visits to the hospital’s emergency department.