Fifteen northern Saskatchewan First Nation communities will be taking part in a virtual care pilot program.

The project will connect the communities with healthcare professionals in the south for virtual assessments, follow-up appointments and support using tablets.

Researchers with the University of Regina, the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre and the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital will receive $1.27 million in funding over five years for the program.

This project builds on a previous program where one northern First Nation received virtual healthcare using a robot to connect patients with a pediatrician in Saskatoon.

Cassandra Opikokew Wajuntah, director of the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre, said in a statement, “each community our team is working with will now have access to pediatric specialists without patients or their families having to leave their communities—something that is long overdue.”

Researchers are working with the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority and File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council to decide on the 15 communities that will be participating in the project.

(PHOTO: Cassandra Opikokew Wajuntah is part of the team working on this program. Photo courtesy of the University of Regina.)