Many Canadians unaware of digital health solutions
July 20, 2016
TORONTO – While 89 percent of Canadians believe that digital health solutions will lead to better care, 48 percent of them are unaware of existing services that are already available through electronic methods at medical offices, health clinics or pharmacies in some parts of the country. That’s one of the findings of a recent survey conducted by Maru/VCR&C and commissioned by Telus Health, Canada’s largest health IT company.
Moreover, only 14 percent of Canadians surveyed have viewed lab results online and 61 percent reported that they didn’t even know that it was possible to do so, even though many of Canada’s specimen collection labs will let patients check their results online.
A mere 15 percent of Canadians appear to conduct any kind of health-related activity online.
The Telus Health Digital Life survey was in field from May 30 to June 3, 2016. The collected responses are balanced such that the results will be representative of Canada by region and age. Results are reported with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.
The survey found that 89 percent of millennials, 83 percent of Gen Xers and 79 percent of baby boomers say they feel comfortable with the idea of digital health technology tools; with nearly nine out of 10 (87 percent) of all respondents saying they are comfortable with sharing their medical history digitally between their healthcare providers.
“Both physicians and patients have significantly changed their attitudes towards digital communication over the past few years,” says Dr. Sacha Bhatia (pictured), a cardiologist in Toronto. “Doctors are much more comfortable communicating with patients and other healthcare providers using electronic means. I also think patients have seen the benefits of the internet and online services in their daily lives, and they expect to be able to have those same benefits when accessing health services.”
More from the Telus Health Digital Life survey
- Canadians surveyed ranked personal banking (75 percent), social media (51 percent) and shopping (50 percent) among the most important things they do online, while fewer than half of Canadians (48 percent) ranked access to personal medical records as one of their top online activities.
- Of those surveyed, 81 percent agreed that health information should be shared digitally between doctors and pharmacists, and 75 percent of respondents agree that electronic prescriptions would limit the number of medical errors.
- More than three-quarters (76 percent) of Canadians surveyed believe that electronic medical records (EMRs) improve communication between doctors and their patients. An EMR replaces the paper charts doctors keep with a digital file to track all of a patient’s medical history, lab results and prescriptions in one place.
- Canadians’ attitudes towards EMRs are overwhelmingly positive, though 56 percent of respondents couldn’t say if their family doctor used one. According to a 2015 Canadian Institute for Health Information study, 73 percent of Canadian primary care physicians use EMRs.
- The majority of Canadians surveyed agree that EMRs provide accurate information to doctors about their patients (80 percent), help doctors diagnose patients more effectively and more efficiently (75 percent) and allow for safe and secure sharing of medical information with patients, pharmacists, other doctors and specialists (71 percent).
“Our health is our most prized possession, and Canadians may not realize that by embracing technology we can all better manage our health and the health of our loved ones,” says Hélène Chartier, vice-president, Go-to-Market, Strategy & Enablement at Telus Health. “Whether it’s to refill your prescription online or to get an alert when your child’s medication runs low, we all need to ask our doctors how we can do more to technology to help understand our health. The more we use digital tools to manage and share relevant health information with our doctors, the more ubiquitous this technology will become in our everyday lives and transform the way Canadians receive care.”
About Telus Health
Telus Health is a leader in telehomecare, electronic medical and health records, consumer health, benefits management and pharmacy management. Telus Health solutions give health authorities, providers, physicians, patients and consumers the power to turn information into better health outcomes. For more information about Telus Health, please visit telushealth.com.