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J Genet Couns. 2012 Apr;21(2):337-44. doi: 10.1007/s10897-011-9406-5. Epub 2011 Oct 15.

Trends in telehealth versus on-site clinical genetics appointments in Manitoba: a comparative study.

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WRHA Program of Genetics and Metabolism, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.


Telehealth involves the use of information and communications technology to deliver health services to patients over distance. Canada is well suited to benefit from telehealth since many individuals live in remote, rural and isolated locations. Manitoba is the easternmost prairie province and MBTelehealth is an active Canadian program that currently has 105 sites in 73 communities. Although studies of patient satisfaction comparing telehealth to on-site clinical visits have been conducted, a comparative study of the types of genetics patients seen via these two modalities has not been performed previously. In this study we: (1) examined the uptake of telehealth in Genetics in Manitoba; (2) contrasted telehealth usage in Genetics with other clinical programs; and (3) performed a comparative study of the types of Genetics referrals seen in 2008 on-site versus via telehealth. Results indicate the uptake of telehealth is increasing and has made genetics outreach clinics unnecessary. The Program of Genetics and Metabolism is consistently one of the top ten utilizers of telehealth within the province. With respect to discipline, chi square analysis revealed the trends were not significantly different for on-site and telehealth encounters, with prenatal referrals being the most common and Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer referrals being the least common. Referrals within each discipline varied depending on the need for fetal assessment and physical examination. Telehealth was utilized regularly for test results sessions across all disciplines.

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