Hamilton Health Sciences
Healthcare teams know that most people would rather be at home than in the hospital.
Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is making this a reality with the help of technology and private sector partnerships. Teams at HHS are testing innovative tools that digitally bridge the gap between the hospital and home. It’s part of HHS’ investment in tech-driven solutions to reduce long hospital stays, emergency department (ED) visits, and frequent follow-up trips. Most importantly, it’s an investment in a healthier community.
Take John, for example. A 74-year-old retired chemist, he and his wife Kathy have always been proactive about their health. Age hasn’t slowed them down, so they were shocked to learn John needed open-heart surgery. Intrigued by the additional layer of safety it would bring to his recovery process, and John agreed to join a program at HHS that’s testing special patient monitoring technology after surgery. Once home, he had daily follow-up appointments – his nurse checked his stitches for signs of infection, made sure his blood pressure was stable and answered any questions he had about recovery. This is a typical interaction for a patient who’s just had surgery, except for one thing. John and his nurse—the same nurse who cared for him in the intensive care unit at HHS—communicated using a tablet. She was at the hospital, and he was at home.
Then, there’s 82-year-old Beverly, who was preparing for knee replacement surgery when she learned she needed heart surgery, too. Open-heart surgery can be taxing and sometimes dangerous for older people, so Beverly was offered a less invasive procedure called a transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI). The heart valve is replaced using a long tube inserted through a tiny incision.
Hospital Healthcare at home Hamilton
Three-quarters of HHS’ TAVI patients return home from the hospital within 24 hours, while open-heart surgery patients stay for up to 10 days. Uneasy about returning home so quickly, Beverly agreed to wear a remote heart monitor, which sent real-time data to her cardiologist at HHS. She was relieved to know she was still being looked after, even
as she sat in her living room.
From the data relayed through the monitoring technology, Beverly’s cardiologist was able to detect an abnormal heartbeat before she had even showed symptoms. She returned to the same cardiac team at HHS to get a pacemaker and then recovered smoothly at home.
The added peace of mind allowed her to focus on her favourite pastime, knitting.
The emergency team at HHS’ McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) is also using virtual technology, except their patients aren’t at home: they’re at another hospital, tens of kilometres away. McMaster Children’s Hospital is the regional hub for children’s health care, but in some emergency situations, kids are taken to the nearest community hospital for immediate care.
Using advanced teleconferencing technology, the MCH team provides live, expert instruction to their colleagues in the ED at Niagara Health to help stabilize a child in critical condition. The added support and expertise helps prepare the child to be transported to MCH sooner so that they can receive specialized care. The technology is like FaceTime, except the stakes are much higher.
These examples just scratch the surface of how innovative use of technology at HHS is transforming care beyond hospital walls. It’s already making a major impact— just ask John and Beverly. In the coming years, HHS will continue to invest in tech-enabled care to support a more efficient, patient- centred healthcare system.
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