COPD Telehomecare Program
Managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on your own can be a difficult thing. Environmental or other factors can quietly affect your COPD, leading to a flare up – and in some cases a trip to the Emergency Department – before you know it.
The COPD Telehomecare Program helps those with COPD self-manage their disease better and provide support. At the heart of the program is a tablet device,which connects securely from your home phone line to the clinic at the Health Sciences Centre. Every day, patients use the tablet to take their own vital signs like blood pressure and answer a few questions. A nurse practitioner at the clinic reviews the data for any red flags. In most cases, those who come to the Emergency Department for their COPD actually have symptoms three to five days in advance, so the nurse practitioner can help long before it becomes an emergency.
What to Expect
Most patients in the COPD Telehomecare Program are referred by an Emergency Department doctor, though patients can also be referred by their primary care provider (family doctor, nurse practitioner, etc.) You will be asked to come to the COPD Telehomecare Program at the Health Sciences Centre for at least one appointment. During this appointment, the team will assess your current condition, provide you with some tips on how to self-manage your disease, and teach you how to use the Telehomecare tablet.
Please bring your Health Card to every appointment at the clinic. If you cannot make your appointment, please call the COPD Telehomecare Clinic at (807) 684-6753.
At home, the procedure varies depending on your personal circumstances. Generally speaking, you will be asked to take your vital signs using the tablet (it will guide you through the process) and answer a few questions about your health, how you’re feeling, etc. This information is sent to the clinic where a nurse practitioner reviews it to ensure your symptoms are well-managed. Should a problem arise, the nurse practitioner or other member of the team will contact you for a phone consultation and to provide support and information, if needed.
The long-term goal of the program is to help you recognize and self-manage your COPD so that you recognize the warning signs of an attack long before it happens, avoiding unnecessary discomfort and trips to the Emergency Department.
Telehomecare is a secure home monitoring system provided through the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). It can be used to monitor COPD and heart failure patients with recurring symptoms no matter where they live, as long as they have a phone landline (cell phones will not work with the system). The device is easy to use so that patients can take their own vital signs and answer a series of questions personalized to their specific condition. It is an excellent system for distance health in a region like Northwestern Ontario, connecting patients with healthcare professionals for comprehensive care and helping manage your symptoms before it becomes an emergency situation.