Since 2001, the development of First Nations Telehealth/Telemedicine in Ontario has demonstrated a collaborative approach to meeting health needs without unnecessary duplication or creation of parallel health care systems. Its growth has been facilitated by strong relationships with member First Nations and among KO Telemedicine, the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) and First Nations and Inuit Health (FNIH). The net result has been the establishment and maintenance of a high quality and cost effective Telehealth/Telemedicine service for Ontario's most isolated communities. The service model is rooted in First Nations requirements, directed by community leadership and focused on First Nations health and wellness priorities. The use of information and communications technology supports a wide range of health, social and economic development needs and anticipates First Nations development of complementary health initiatives such as clinical information systems and their use in population health and pandemic planning.
KOTM contributes to improved health outcomes for on-reserve population. It provides a contemporary counterpoint to the historic failure of previous health policy and programs to close chronic health services access gaps for remote First Nations communities. First Nations Telehealth/Telemedicine in Ontario has substantively improved community-based choice of health service providers and frequency and proximity of health service access. It has also demonstrated how culturally safe and competent health services can be delivered across large geographic and culturally diverse territories by First Nations. In this manner communities' capacities are being built and strengthened while providing health workers with the resources they need to do their jobs effectively.
KO TELEMEDICINE - A Brief History
1998 - Federal investments in Telehealth/Telemedicine for First Nations were indentified leading to the development of a number of pilot projects in 1998.
2000 - Health Canada announces funding to support a regional Telehealth/Telemedicine consultation in Northwestern Ontario with the involvement of Keewaytinook Okimakanak (Northern Chiefs Council).
2001 - Keewaytinook Okimakanak enters into an agreement with the NORTH Network to develop and document a service model for a rural and remote First Nations.
2002 - KO Telemedicine is established by Keewaytinook Okimakanak servicing the communities of Deer Lake, Fort Severn, Keewaywin, North Spirit Lake and Poplar Hill First Nations with technical support provided by Kuh-ke-nah Broadband Network (K-Net).
2003 - KO Telemedicine expansion project began, subsequently adding 21 communities to the network by 2007.
2006 - The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) joined KO Telemedicine providing its own funding for equipment, training and operation resources, including scheduling staff.
2006 - KO Telemedicine receives two awards from the Canadian Society of Telehealth.
2008 - KO Telemedicine surpasses 10,000 events.