Virtual Care for Frail Seniors at Home

Two point-of-care workers deliver have a consult via a computer

Award Date: 2016

Project Lead(s): Jagger Smith, Clinical Manager Ambulatory Services

Project Title: A Pilot Study of Home-Based Primary Care using Telemedicine

What is the issue?

Many frail, older adults living at home are at risk for emergency department visits or being admitted to hospital or institutional care. The Integrated Community Care Team at Baycrest provides in-home, comprehensive assessments and follow-up care for these individuals. However, determining the best way to provide these follow-up visits is a challenge.

What did we do?

We evaluated whether scheduled video visits with multiple specialists could provide effective follow-up care. Our study ran for 11 months using the Ontario Telemedicine Network. We compared results for older adults who received virtual visits to two other groups who had received in-person care.

What did we find?

Virtual care was an effective approach for healthcare professionals to provide at-home care for frail seniors with complex conditions. Setting up a connection on the Ontario Telemedicine Network took about five to seven minutes. The calls took about 27 minutes. Older adults and their care partners were satisfied with the videoconferencing visit. A majority of participants, 80 per cent, would choose virtual care again if it meant they could be seen more often. One hundred percent of caregivers said that they were able to manage frail seniors’ conditions better as a result of the virtual care visits. Our staff continued to use telemedicine visits after the study ended.