03/21/2013 10:46 EDT | Updated 05/21/2013 05:12 EDT

Telehealth Video-Conferencing A New Way For Alberta Patient, Doctors To Connect


More Albertans are meeting with doctors through video conferencing.

The technology, which allows patients to see, hear and speak with their health-care providers without leaving their own community, has made a huge difference for five-year-old Brayden Bigoraj.

Instead of driving to Edmonton, Brayden and his family, who live in Red Deer, say doctor checkups have never been easier thanks to teleconferencing.

Brayden had arteriovenous malformation - an abnormal collection of blood vessels which resulted in a large mass the size of a cellphone forming behind his ear.

The little boy recently underwent surgery at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton to remove the mass.

To followup with his neurosurgeon, the family just has to drive a few blocks to the local hospital and receive a checkup through a video chat.

"(It's) so much easier,'' said his mother, Kimberly Bigoraj. "He's in school, so I don't have to take him out of school.

"That's been helpful that we've just been able to do it this way rather than having to travel to Edmonton and worry about the weather and expense. It's much easier.''

Dr. Jeff Pugh, a neurosurgeon at the hospital, says he was unsure how closely he'd be able to inspect Brayden's incision through the teleconferencing technology but was pleased to see it worked.

"I hadn't utilized Telehealth before, I wasn't sure how well I would be able to visualize the wound and I wasn't sure what opportunities would be available for treatment in Red Deer,'' Pugh said.

"With the technology I was able to see exactly those areas of breakdown. He has three areas that looked like cigarette burns that were breaking down and needed additional treatment for those that could be delivered in Red Deer.''

Last year, 650 patients met with a pediatric specialist through the technology - a 33 per cent increase compared to the year before.

It's also estimated more than 4,300 discussions on patient cases and care plans took place between experts such as dietitians, pedestrians, cardiologists and urologists through Telehealth technology.

(CTV Edmonton)

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