Author: Courtney Wolfe
In British Columbia, Canada, the First Nations community of indigenous American Indians has been excluded from receiving sufficient healthcare due to several underlying factors. Until recently, these were unaddressed by the Canadian healthcare system.
First Nations Health Authority
In 2013, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), which is the first health authority of its kind in Canada, began offering healthcare to First Nations communities through the(FNTEP). This monumental accomplishment was funded by Canada Health Infoway and helps to close the gap between First Nations and accessible healthcare.
Now, a recently released case study on Canadian telehealth highlights the substantial impact the FNTEP has had on First Nations communities throughout British Columbia.
Telehealth is the delivery of healthcare services remotely through live, interactive videoconferencing. Prior to the inception of FNTEP, inequalities in healthcare access were prevalent among First Nations. Often, community members would have to travel 17 hours or more to receive basic medical care. The cost of the care was expensive, due to the extensive travel involved, and not all treatment provided was culturally appropriate. Even the telehealth programs currently in place in Canada failed to address important factors of relevance and accessibility for First Nations.
How First Nations Telehealth Expansion Project Works
After identifying their healthcare needs and priorities, 45 First Nations communities joined forces with the FNHA to map out a telehealth plan that matched First Nations providers with community members across British Columbia who were in need of medical services.
In support of the First Nations Telehealth Expansion Project , 203 First Nation’s Chiefs came together and worked diligently with the FNHA to help integrate the project into their respective communities. Today, the FNTEP is responsible for providing accessible and affordable telehealth services to 203 First Nations communities throughout British Columbia.