In the winter of 2005, a provincial telehealth strategic plan was developed under the auspices of the Office of Primary Health Care (OPHC) and the NL Centre for Health Information. This strategic plan was developed in consultation with a number of key stakeholders within government, at the regional level, and with health care professionals to:

As a result of surveys, focus group sessions, and a detailed needs assessment, the following areas were identified as strategic directions for this Province:

The development of the telehealth strategic plan and the planning phase for implementation have been tied closely to the activities and approach to Primary Health Care within the province. According to the Framework for Primary Health Care Renewal in NL (2003), the World Health Organization identifies five basic elements for primary health care: access, health promotion, intersectoral collaboration, public participation, and appropriate technology.

Chronic Disease Management (CDM) is the focus for initial implementation of telehealth, given the large population within NL living with chronic diseases. The aging population, the number of aboriginal people with chronic diseases, and the declining population in rural areas, make telehealth a sound choice in the delivery of care for CDM. There are numerous chronic diseases that can be targeted; but as an initial step in identifying the telehealth requirements, the following diseases have been identified: 1) Diabetes; 2) Oncology; 3) Mental Health; 4) Nephrology; and 5) Neurology. It is understood, however, that as other priorities and clinical needs arise, the regions can use the technology to develop other telehealth service applications. Allowing the Regional Integrated Health Authorities (RHAs) the ability to choose applications based on their needs is key to the successful integration and sustainability of telehealth. The five identified diseases will provide a basis for the development of process and policy and will present a model for other applications.

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