PEI Hospital trialing 'tele-rounding'

In a rural corner of PEI, a small hospital is trying a first-in-Canada approach to delivering care that could offer a solution to doctor shortages across the country.

Instead of a doctor doing hospital rounds in person, a nurse rolls in a TV cart with the physician on a video screen from an office elsewhere in the province or the country.

Western Hospital in Alberton, PEI, has undertaken a six-month pilot ``tele-rounding'' project with doctors treating patients via a secure video conference link.

They can check on patients, review their files, order tests and even use a digital, bluetooth-enabled stethoscope applied by a nurse while a doctor listens remotely.

The tele-rounding service is provided by the Toronto based company Maple.

The PEI pilot project will be reviewed in February, and Maple CEO Dr. Brett Belchetz says if it's successful, they could use it elsewhere.

Similar tele-rounding has already been introduced in the United States and United Kingdom.