Routine visits to the doctor’s office would become a distant memory if more Canadians could access their health information and health
services online.

Imagine how convenient it would be to renew prescriptions online. Imagine how relieved you would feel if, shortly after taking a blood test, you could view your results online and see that everything was okay. Imagine how much time and money you would save if you could have a virtual visit with your doctor instead of taking time off work for an in-person visit.

According to a new study conducted for Canada Health Infoway (Infoway), Canadians who can currently access these services are collectively saving up to $150 million per year by avoiding taking time off work, travel, and other costs associated with visiting a doctor’s office. Our health care system is saving an additional $134 million a year because patients who can access their health information and connect with their doctor electronically avoid unnecessary phone calls and in-person visits and have fewer trips to the emergency department.

According to our most recent survey of Canadians, only 22 percent have access to their health information online, while 73 percent do not have access and would like it. Forty-one percent want access to virtual visits — the ability to talk with their health care providers by video — while only six percent can do so.

So how do we ensure that Canadians can access their health information and services in the same way they access their financial services — online, at their convenience, and with the assurance that the highest standards of privacy and security are in place?

Infoway’s bold new ACCESS Health program is harnessing the power of Canada’s technology sector and driving the development of new digital tools and e-services to make health care more accessible. It will strengthen overall access to care, improve the patient experience by helping people access their health information online and connect to the services they need, and give providers digital tools to help them deliver the best care possible.

With a little imagination and a strong collective effort, we can create a health care system that offers Canadians the convenience and peace of mind they’re asking for while delivering significant value.

Michael Green is the President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway. Connect with him on Twitter @MGreenonHealth.