Vanessa Linklater and her husband Calvin McCallum in Saskatoon. Photo by Joel Willick.

Health professionals and patients from northern Saskatchewan are urging decision makers to embrace further advancements in technology.

A one-day conference in Saskatoon on Thursday brought these voices together to discuss ways to further embrace the latest technology for remote health providers.

“My hope at this conference is that these decision makers sit down, talk together, listen to each other and actually help us develop the policies we need to make this happen,” said event organizer and College of Nursing professor, Lorna Butler.

Over the past several years, remote Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan have started embracing technology and innovation in order to receive the best healthcare available to them. Communities like Stony Rapids and Pelican Narrows have been introduced to remote presence technology in the form of robotics. In July of this year, groundbreaking ultrasound technology was introduced across the north.

Butler says there is even more technology available, but it just needs to be put in place.

“How do we put into action what is already available to us?” she asked. “The technology is not new, and it is used worldwide, so how do we bring Saskatchewan into that arena?”

She is hoping the conference will be the catalyst to bring some of this available technology to northern Saskatchewan.

For Vanessa Linlklater from Pelican Narrows, getting more of this technology is vitally important. She has a five-year-old adopted daughter, who has battled health concerns her entire life.

“I am here today because I want to tell Saskatchewan that this technology is very helpful,” she said.

Linklater’s daughter has had several appointments with healthcare providers from Prince Albert and Saskatoon through robotics technology in Pelican Narrows. This has saved the family from numerous long trips down south.

While organizers say Thursday’s conference will be focused on health, they do say new technology can be used in education, corrections and other industries in northern Saskatchewan.

“If we can lead with healthcare, then why shouldn’t we do that?” Butler asked. “There are lots of opportunities for us to use innovation and technology, so why don’t we?”