Improving health care services through technology

We recently talked to Ian Irving, Regional Manager of Clinical Services, about how CSC is improving the ways it delivers health care services to offenders in the Ontario region using new technologies. CSC is working to expand the use of these technologies to all regions to increase access to health care and services to offenders.

1. Telemedicine

Telemedicine allows CSC to connect patients with doctors using virtual technology.

“Consider having to drive from Ottawa to Toronto every time you have to see your doctor. It would make for a long day!” says Irving. “Telemedicine closes the gap between space and time by connecting offenders with doctors for immediate access to essential health services.”

Before telemedicine, offenders had to be taken to outside facilities for specialized medical care. Now, information can be shared through video technology. Using electronic diagnostic equipment, such as digital stethoscopes, otoscopes and patient exam cameras, doctors can share x-rays and other diagnostic tests during virtual consultations.  This technology is also used to share knowledge and expertise between educators and learners.

2. Electronic Offender Health Information System

Clinicians often need access to a patient’s chart at the same time as a colleague. With the new electronic Offender Health Information System (OHIS), these challenges will soon no longer exist. OHIS includes Open Source Clinical Records and our pharmacy system called Purkinje (also the name for those little fibers in your heart). 

Irving says this technology has been a real time-saver. “With OHIS, you can access a file from an office located in the same institution or across the country in real time. This change has significantly saved time for both frontline clinical and health administration staff. And as our information highway continues to improve, so will the speed of our programs.”

3. Electrostatic Cleaning Program

Becoming sick after a visit to the doctor’s office, where germs and infection are prevalent, is a common concern for most people.

“Health-care associated infections and infections obtained by touching health-care related surfaces affect patients in Canadian communities, and this is transferrable to health care settings within CSC,” says Irving.  

In an effort to address this challenge, CSC has implemented a new electrostatic cleaning program in its health care units. This new program uses a spray that produces a small negative charge that penetrates 100% of all surfaces to kill pathogens (an agent of bacteria or virus that causes disease).

Decreasing the amount of bacteria creates a safer and healthier environment for both staff and offenders. Irving says the program is working. “Since implementing the electrostatic cleaning program, using the spray in combination with a disinfectant has resulted in an 83% reduction of bacteria found on surfaces in the health care units.”

4. Simulation Training

Imagine if medical staff and first responders were able to practice responding to someone having a heart attack or acute trauma in real time, without the risk of the patient dying. Irving says new simulation training (known as SIMS training) does exactly that.

“SIMS training is a teaching technique that amplifies real-life experiences. We have been working with Queen’s University’s Clinical Simulation Centre to provide simulation training to our frontline nurses.  The simulation lab is set up like a standard treatment room, and the high fidelity mannequin responds in real time to treatments,” says Irving. Irving adds that the experience gained in an environment free of risk is invaluable. “Participation in the training has resulted in improved handling of medical errors, has increased confidence in our staff and built a more cohesive team environment when frontline medical staff provide care and respond to traumas and emergencies.”  

CSC’s Health Services team in the Ontario region has embraced these new and effective ways to use technology to enhance staff training, improve service delivery, and close the gap between space and time.

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