May 4, 2020 (Toronto) — As Canadians grapple with the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cisco Canada and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada's largest mental health teaching hospital, are announcing today the successful expansion of virtual care to meet the demand for mental health services.
Telehealth innovation and expansion have long been a priority for CAMH, and through a partnership with Cisco, CAMH was able to drastically increase the number of virtual visits it can offer to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year the hospital provided virtual care to over 3,000 patients from over 550 communities across Ontario. From March to April 2020 alone, CAMH's virtual care visits increased from approximately 350 per month to almost 3,000 per month, an increase of over 750 per cent.
"While we are apart right now, no one is alone and technology is helping to keep populations and patients connected during this difficult time. This is a pivotal moment for a new frontier of telemental health care in Canada – CAMH is reshaping how we deliver care now and into the future," said Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO of CAMH. "There is no going back. The adoption of virtual health platforms will be a permanent and growing fixture of the health care system, and be offered as an accessible, flexible and secure mental health care option for patient care going forward."
In March, Cisco's highly secure Webex technology was rapidly deployed across the organization, enabling the training of upwards of 400 CAMH clinicians – from 50 in February – to deliver virtual care and 1,500 more virtual visits in April. Patients have more flexibility scheduling appointments and follow-ups, shorter wait times, seamless communication with clinicians and the ability to receive care securely no matter where they live.
"Cisco understands how critical technology can be in bridging gaps, breaking down barriers and connecting the unconnected. This pandemic has fueled the digital revolution in mental health services — it's been a catalyst for delivering remote care at scale and helping those in need get access during a difficult time," said Rola Dagher, President and CEO of Cisco Canada. "By working with world-class partners like CAMH, we can evolve the way healthcare services are delivered in Canada and around the world."
The expansion of telemental health capacity since the start of the pandemic builds on CAMH's long-standing record as a leader in this area. With strong groundwork in place, the hospital was well-positioned to rapidly adapt policies and transform service delivery.
"Mental health care looks fundamentally different today than it did three months ago, and yet at its core we continue to strive for compassionate, quality care. We have made incredible strides in our ability to deliver virtual care, accelerating our digital transformation and enhancing our ability to provide care to more patients in more communities," said Dr. Allison Crawford, CAMH. "Through innovation and technology, we have an opportunity to reimagine and rebuild a broader system of virtual care that is safe, secure, flexible and accessible."
Over a two-year partnership, Cisco Canada has contributed nearly $2 million in technology, funding and services to support CAMH research, develop and build new models of care.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health teaching hospital and one of the world's leading research centres in its field. CAMH's virtual care delivers real-time client care via secure videoconferencing. This innovative and effective mode of health services delivery bridges geographical disparities and improves access to psychiatric care. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. Visit www.camh.ca and follow us on Twitter at @CAMHnews.
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