Psychiatrists find way to increase access to care

January 8, 2018

Two psychiatrists based in Victoria are using technology to improve access to mental health services for children and youth around Vancouver Island.  

Aware that there is a shortage of psychiatrists in the province, Drs Helen Campbell and Gisele Ferguson turned to the Specialist Services Committee (SSC) for help.

They received funding through the SSC’s Quality and Innovation Initiative to set up psychiatrist consultation services through TeleHealth.  

Dr Gisele Ferguson

“Island Health has an excellent TeleHealth infrastructure and for many years Psychiatry has been using TeleHealth as a service modality so this seemed like a perfect fit and opportunity” Dr Ferguson added.  

Dr Campbell explains how it works “Family physicians in a number of communities on Vancouver Island use the consultation services of a child psychiatrist in Victoria by completing a brief one page referral form and faxing it to our TeleHealth Administration Clerk, who then arranges bookings at the TeleHealth sites nearest to patients’ communities.”

Each TeleHealth sites has health care staff there to accompany the patient and be available to address any on-site needs.

“Children and youth are very comfortable with technology and can engage easily through it,” said Dr Ferguson. “Parents have been very pleased to have access to specialist services in their own community, which avoids the need to travel hours for an appointment.”  

The project has led to decreased wait times, reduced travel costs and improved access to specialized services.

This is just one of many ways BC doctors are working with partners to make a difference in patients’ lives.

The Specialists Services Committee is a partnership of Doctors of BC, the BC Ministry of Health and Health Authorities. For more on the work of the Committee, click here.