Telemedicine

Telemedicine is the delivery of health-related services and information using telecommunications technologies. Using 2-way videoconferencing systems and tele-diagnostic instruments like digital stethoscopes, otoscopes and patient examination cameras, The Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) helps deliver clinical care and professional education among health care providers and patients.

OTN is transforming the way patients can receive needed health care by eliminating barriers to care. Today, more than 2,000 health care professionals deliver care using OTN. Programs and services are delivered to over 615 sites across the province.

What happens at the telehealth appointment?

A telemedicine appointment is much like a regular health care visit, only the health professional you will be seeing and talking to appears on a video screen.

Before you arrive for your appointment, the person who will examine you will already have some information about you. In addition, you may be asked to bring test results or x-rays with you to the appointment. Once you have checked in at the clinic, you may be asked to change into a gown, depending on the type of examination you require.

An individual who has been trained in telemedicine will bring you into the examination room, show you the equipment and explain how it works. You may ask any questions that you have. After you have been provided with the details about your appointment, you will be asked for your consent to proceed.

Who is with you during a consultation?

In most consultations, a telemedicine professional will be with you during the examination although your family doctor or other health professional may also attend. In some cases, you may also wish to have a family member or other significant person present.

Who will be examining you?

The health professional you will see will be located at another site that is a member of the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). OTN has hundreds of health professionals providing care at hundreds of sites throughout the province in over 200 specialties.

How long does a Telehealth appointment take?

A telemedicine appointment can run anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the type of appointment and whether or not you have seen the health professional before.

Is telemedicine private?

Your telemedicine appointment will be private and confidential. The appointment can only be seen and heard by those directly involved.

What about your personal health information?

We understand that your health information is important to you and that it must be protected. Personal health information is any information that can identify you and link you to the health services that you receive. This includes your name, address, telephone number, health card number, examination or laboratory results, the name of the health professional you will be seeing, and the reason for the visit.

How does OTN protect your personal health information?

OTN uses your personal health information to arrange your telemedicine consultation, inform you of the arrangements made and to conduct the appointment.

Your consent for the use of this information by OTN is implied when you agree with your referring health professional to have a telemedicine consultation. You may withdraw your consent at any time prior to or during the consultation. Your personal health information will not be shared with anyone other than those involved in your care without your prior consent, unless OTN is required to do so by law.

OTN uses a variety of physical, administrative and technical methods to protect your personal information including: control access locks, locked drawers and filing cabinets, user ID and passwords, private key encryption software, firewalls, virtual private network hardware and software clients, and a private network over which data and images flow between sites.

Where can you get more information about OTN?

If you have any questions, please speak to your health care professional. You can also visit OTN online at otn.ca.