Canadians have embraced digital technology in almost all aspects of their lives, yet when it comes to health care, the system has been slow to adopt innovative technologies. This impacts access to health care and the quality of care Canadians receive. According to the Commonwealth Fund’s 2017 survey of 11 countries, Canada ranked ninth in health system performance, and came in last place for certain indicators measuring access to care.

Currently, only 22% of Canadians have access to their health information online, yet most would like access. They want the ability to renew prescriptions, view their health information, book appointments with their family doctor, and confirm specialist referrals, all online and from the comfort of their home.

Sparking action

It’s critical that we change this trend and make it just as easy to access health information and digital health solutions as it is to shop, book flights, and connect with friends and family online. We need to spark interest and action in digital health innovation — Canadians expect and deserve better. But we can’t do this in silos.

[Digital health systems] mean more informed decision making, strong privacy and security protection, and better access to health providers.

That’s why Canada Health Infoway launched ACCESS 2022, a movement to bring together innovators, industry, government, clinicians, and patients who share a vision of a better health system and are interested in collaborating to resolve challenges and scale digital health solutions. 

This vision includes providing more Canadians with access to their personal health information and to digitally enabled health services anytime, anywhere, from the device of their choice. For Canadians, this means more informed decision making, strong privacy and security protection, and better access to health providers.

For clinicians, the adoption and use of patient-centric technologies will lead to better patient outcomes and streamlined communication with clinical partners. The effective scaling of successful digital solutions will result in greater value for Canadians and Canadian industry. 

Reducing barriers to access 

Digital health innovations will reduce many of the barriers to access that exist in Canada. The benefits for Canadians and the health system are hard to ignore. A recent study found that Canadians collectively reap about $119 to $150 million in value every year from adopting digital health technologies. This is due mainly to avoiding time off work, and travel and other costs associated with a trip to the doctor’s office.

Digital health is the future. The opportunity to revolutionize how we access our health system is upon us.

In addition, the current adoption of digital health solutions generates up to $134 million annually in value to the health system. That’s due mainly to the avoidance of unnecessary phone calls, in-person visits, and trips to emergency rooms, because patients can access their health information and connect with their doctor electronically. 

Face-to-face visits will still have a place in primary care, but an in-person visit isn’t always required. With digital health innovations, patients can spend more time at home getting well, instead of travelling to medical appointments. 

Digital health is the future. The opportunity to revolutionize how we access our health system is upon us. We’ve already made tremendous progress improving our health system through technology, and with a team of passionate partners committed to better patient outcomes, Canada can reclaim its place as a global health leader.