By Gayle Dempsey and Gary Froude
As an advisor to the Digital Health Advisory Council, Gary recently had the opportunity to share some of his story with the council, particularly as it relates to the evolution of digital health care in Muskoka.
“I am a 72 year old. I identify as male who has been a quadriplegic living at home on a Ventilator since 2016. In 2013 I became unwell. The reason for this still remains a mystery. My first two years were spent between three various ICU’S, when I came home there was zero medical oversight, my wife had to assemble the ventilator and various other life-saving equipment on her own.
I have been home for six years and I can tell you that I have seen huge changes since my first virtual appointment some four short years ago when I had to be driven to the hospital to sit in front of a screen and wait for a doctor who was fifteen minutes late, who never looked up until he prescribed a medicine that I mentioned was a breathing suppressant. He then looked up and was shocked to see the trach. We ended that meeting with no medication and the promise of another meeting via OTN at a later date. As it turned out, that would be some 90 days later.
The advancement from having to drive an hour each way for a ten minute meeting which was actually a 6-hour exercise for me, to suddenly having those appointments from the comfort of my home was a major improvement for me.
Look where we are today: I have community paramedics monitoring remotely daily with an oximeter and BP Cuff and bymonthly visits. I have had virtual appointments on my cell while traveling. I am able to make my own appointment with my primary physician and speak to him whenever I need help. I am also able to book appointments with specialists sometimes virtual and in-person when required.
We have AI, CAI and CCAI, block chain, bots, portals and portals to aggregate those portals, and we are able to meet like this.
I have a fancy computer that operates solely by my eye movement which allows the opportunity to be here speaking today, as well as meet virtually with members of the various boards I serve on. We were told six years ago that we were out of our minds and what we were planning was not possible.
Every day presents its own unique set of challenges and technology has made things a little scary but it allows me to feel a sense of security somehow.
I worry about the movement away from human interaction and the face-to-face connection, however if one is connected to the net and has the savvy to work through the gauntlet it is great.
I also worry about the ability of the ageing population, who are neither savvy nor connected, to be able to access this new way of healthcare service delivery. For me that is a concern.
I have every confidence in this group’s ability and dedication to implement a digital healthcare strategy for Muskokan’s and hope that it will somehow be inclusive and accessible for everyone.
Gayle Dempsey is an artist and fourth-generation Muskokan. Gary Froude, whose background is in the entertainment industry, is ‘from away’. They are passionate change-makers in Muskoka and care deeply about its past, present and future. Their work reflects their passion for life-long learning and community development and for the past 25 years they have been resurrecting Muskoka Chautauqua on Lake Rosseau.
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