ICDO currently offers Telehealth Addiction Services to rural communities and provincial correctional facilities, as well as to our safety-sensitive monitoring patients. Addiction services are woefully lacking in remote or rural areas, putting patients in underserviced areas at high risk of overdose if they are unable to access timely addiction care. Telehealth, a process in which patients in remote locations are assessed  by physicians via video-conferencing, has proven an effective means of reaching rural and remote patients.

Telehealth is, at the point of need, administered by a health care worker such as RN, LPN, counsellor, or addiction care worker.  The initial assessment and urine drug screen is done by the remote location. At the other end, a physician is able to communicate in real time to both the counsellor and the patient.  The counsellor documents the patient’s encounter, and the physician writes, faxes, then mails any prescriptions required to the patient’s location.  Co-ordination of care is done by both the remote location and Interior Chemical Dependency Office, ensuring that patients are safe and their addiction and mental health needs are taken care of.

Access to treatment can be a challenge, however, with so few addictions physicians who practice Addiction Medicine, access to timely care can be challenging for addicted patients.  Driving hours to access care can make committing to treatment problematic.  We believe Telehealth is the answer to this barrier.

The benefits of using Telehealth include, but are not limited to:

  • Timely access to physicians who apply the highest standards of care
  • Avoids unnecessary transfers to larger facilities when a remote provider can determine if the patients best care option is to stay local
  • Allows physicians to develop relationships with underserved communities that need their help
  • Reduces costs with timely access to the right physician reduces overall inefficiencies in the system
  • Produces significant savings to the system as well as the patient
  • Allows the patient to begin treating their addiction issues without having to leave their family and community
  • Enables partnerships between communities and encourages the overall health of that community. Remote locations, in particular, are vulnerable and often underserved, but they need not be.
  • Encourages patient stability as travel time and costs are not an issue; the patient can focus on recovery.

ICDO is a private clinic that is not supported by external organizations. Thus patients pay a monthly fee for non-MSP funded services. If a patient is receiving Social Assistance or PWD Disability benefits through the province of BC, a portion or all of this fee is subsidized by the Ministry of Social Development. Additional fees may be applicable for telehealth services.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Interior Chemical Dependency Office team.  We’d be happy to answer any questions you have about Telehealth.