Aboriginal Telehealth Literature Review

Review of published evidence to inform telehealth/eHealth initiatives on First Nations reserves


The objective of this project is to develop an appropriate framework assessing the feasibility, sustainability and suitability of Telehealth/e-health interventions on First Nations reserves. Realization of this project will take place in three phases. The first phase consists of a systematic review of grey and published literature to develop a draft First Nations-specific framework that assesses the feasibility, suitability and sustainability of Telehealth interventions and informs how these may be effectively integrated into routine health care practices on British Columbia First Nations reserves. The second phase (concurrent to the first) consists of face-to-face interviews with cultural knowledge keepers to inform on the development of a cultural framework for a draft discussion paper. Third, the project will validate the draft framework through discussions and workshops with BC First Nations and other e-health technical advisory groups. [more info]

Background

There appears to be a correlation between the limited access to health care afforded to most First Nations people and their high hospitalization rate. First Nations people have a higher hospitalization rate than most Canadians for all causes except circulatory diseases and cancers. For respiratory diseases, digestive diseases or injuries and poisonings, the rates for Aboriginal patients are approximately two to three times higher than their corresponding Canadian rates. In British Columbia, 96 of the 105 First Nations reserves that are funded and/or served by the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada have zero or limited access to community-based secondary and tertiary prevention interventions. The inequalities and inequities between care offered to most BC residents and the care offered to residents living on First Nations reserves has been repeatedly documented in the past decade.

Motivation

In 2005 First Nations leadership, the province of British Columbia and the federal government made a ten-year commitment to closing the gaps between Aboriginal and other British Columbians in the areas of housing, education, health and socio-economic status. Telehealth was recommended as a valuable tool to address the challenges of delivering quality/meaningful care to remote regions and meeting health objectives in First Nation communities.

Objectives

This study will review existing published and grey literature on the topic of Telehealth interventions on First Nations Reserves to review the following:

  • How Telehealth was/is integrated into existing models of care on First Nations reserves
  • How effectively Telehealth interventions are in serving the unique needs of residents on First Nations reserves.
  • To assess Telehealth as an alternative to current models of care delivery.

 

Methodology

Realization of this project will take place in three phases. The first phase will consist of a systematic review of grey and published literature to develop a draft First Nations-specific framework that assesses the feasibility, suitability and sustainability of Telehealth interventions and informs how these may be effectively integrated into routine health care practices on British Columbia First Nations reserves. The second phase of the project focuses on validation of the draft framework through discussions/workshops with BC First Nations and other e-health technical advisory groups.

Anticipated Results

This project will assist in supporting the development of policies and services that are grounded in BC First Nations reality and needs, and provide BCATPR with the opportunity of expanding its partnerships and reach. For BC First Nations, this project will provide an opportunity to develop linkages and partnerships with researchers and decision-makers, resulting in the expansion of appropriate care on reserves and communities. We anticipate that the first and second phase of this project will be completed by the third quarter of 2009. Realization of the final phase of the project is dependent on further funding.

See briefing note and full report for additional information on the Aboriginal Telehealth Literature Review.