Rural and remote areas in northern BC experience a greater burden of chronic disease than the rest of the province. The management of chronic disease in primary care settings on Haida Gwaii, in particular, is limited by remoteness and the lack of continuity in outpatient care. The delivery of care to diverse populations in northern BC, including First Nations, requires innovative approaches due to constraints on health system resources.
WelTel is an evidence-based digital health intervention (EBI) that links patients and care providers via text messaging to enhance the timeliness, access to, and quality of chronic disease care. With funding from Doctors of BC, WelTel currently serves 120 patients at Xaayda Gwaay Ngaaysdll Naay/Haida Gwaii Hospital & Health Centre (XGNN). Feedback has been positive on its usefulness, but it has not yet been adopted widely and equitably for patients with chronic disease.
Scaling up WelTel could improve chronic disease management in rural and remote areas of northern BC, address BC health system priorities and advance inter-organizational and patient-centred care. Establishing a process for implementing health innovations that are culturally appropriate will speed up adoption of EBIs in the future.
The goals of this research are to enroll a majority of chronic disease patients in WelTel at XGNN, to expand across primary care on Haida Gwaii, and serve as a model for rural BC. This will include conducting rigorous implementation science research, and a continuation of existing work to construct a mobile health EBI evaluation tool. This will be modified from the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (mCFIR) tool which identifies facilitators and barriers associated with expansion to ensure equitable access for all patients.
The mCFIR tool will be complemented with the He Pikinga Waiora Implementation Framework (HPWIF), a community-based participatory framework rooted in Indigenous self-determination. HPWIF will explore critical cultural intricacies and direct the ethical conduct of research in these communities.
This research is poised to explore the complexities of providing care in Haida Gwaii and establish a culturally safe pathway for implementation of EBIs within the community and in similar settings.