News Release Archive

HEALTH--N.S. Launches First Provincewide Telemedicine Network
Nova Scotia will be the first Canadian province to establish a
provincewide computer-based telemedicine network, Premier Russell
MacLellan announced today.

The system will be known as the Nova Scotia TeleHealth Network
and will connect every hospital in the province by the end of
1998. With 43 sites, the Nova Scotia TeleHealth Network will be
one of the largest telemedicine projects in the world and the
first to connect all hospitals in an entire health jurisdiction.

"Telemedicine will bring big-city medicine to small-town Nova
Scotia," Premier MacLellan said at a news conference.

"This significant advancement will improve the health of Nova
Scotians, help attract doctors to rural Nova Scotia and save
money for both patients and the health care system as a whole. At
the same time, the province's growing high-tech industry will
receive a major boost."

Together with private-sector partners, the Department of Health
will start immediately to establish the $8-million high-tech
network in two stages as a major improvement in Nova Scotia's
health care system.

Telemedicine uses advanced telecommunications technology to
transmit medical data, video images and audio between doctors or
other health care workers at two or more locations.

Health Minister Jim Smith said the advancement will improve Nova
Scotians' access to the health care system by giving patients and
doctors in rural Nova Scotia greater access to specialists and
resources in larger centres without leaving their own

"Until now, if patients in Neils Harbour or Shelburne needed
advice from a specialist, their only option was to travel to a
larger centre," said Dr. Smith.

"Telemedicine will permit real-time clinical consultations from
various parts of the province, vastly improving patient access to
specialists with fewer disruptions and inconveniences."

Partners with the Department of Health for the project are
Dalhousie University Medical School and the Nova Scotia companies
TecKnowledge Healthcare Systems Inc. and MT&T.

"MT&T is committed to providing solutions for its customers,"
said Murray McIsaac, vice-president, major customers for MT&T.
"This significant announcement represents another world first for
MT&T in delivering advanced communication technology to Nova

Dorothy Spence, president of TecKnowledge, said the Dartmouth
company was delighted to be part of the project.

"TecKnowledge was chosen to undertake this project because we
have become recognized as a world leader in the emerging field of
telemedicine," she said. "Wherever we work, I am always proud to
emphasize that we are a Nova Scotia company."

An additional advantage of telemedicine is the ability of the
network to deliver regularly scheduled educational sessions to
doctors and other health care workers in their own communities.
The latest medical advancements from Dalhousie Medical School or
other centres of excellence throughout the world will be
available to doctors through the Nova Scotia TeleHealth Network,
improving the quality of care throughout the province.

Telemedicine will be launched first in the eastern health region,
which includes Cape Breton Island and the counties of Guysborough
and Antigonish, where a $600,000 pilot project last year proved

Besides being the site of the pilot project, which had
overwhelming approval from participants, the eastern region has
the greatest need because of the number of remote areas and the
greater distance to specialty services and the Halifax
tertiary-level hospitals.

By next spring, 13 community hospitals and two regional hospitals
in the region will be connected with the Halifax-based Queen
Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, the IWK Grace and Dalhousie
Medical School.

All hospitals in the province will become part of the network by
the end of next year when the technical requirements are in
place, thanks to the efforts of MT&T and TecKnowledge.

Not only will the province's health care system improve as a
result of the initiative, but the Nova Scotia TeleHealth Network
will also position Nova Scotia companies at the forefront of a
high-tech venture with great export capabilities, said Premier

"Nova Scotia is leading the way in the field of telemedicine,
first with the pilot project and now with provincewide
implementation," said the premier.


Contact: Alan Jeffers
         Department of Health

         Dorothy Spence

         Jackie Van Amburg
         MT& T

ngr                 September 23, 1997               12:30 pm