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'Google generation' wants more high-tech health options, takes preventative approach

Last Updated Aug 14, 2018 at 7:09 am PDT

(iStock Photo)

Seven in 10 Canadians would like to make virtual doctor's visits a regular thing

Over half of people across Canada would wear a mobile device that continuously monitors health

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – How does the so-called “Google generation” interact with a Canadian health care system that is more accustomed to dealing with an older clientele? A new report finds more and more patients are ready for a tech-based approach.

Interactive devices like a Fitbit or an online doctor’s appointment are standard for people aged 18 to 34, according to the findings of a survey, released today by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).

Dr. Jeff Blackmer with the CMA said people in that age group used the system an average of 11 times a year — which was also surprisingly high.

“They use it, though, for different reasons than previous generations. So, rather than getting what we might think of as ‘sick care’ — where they’re feeling unwell and they go for a visit — they’re often trying to prevent health problems in the future and thinking more about things like health and wellness, and how they can stay healthy.”

He called it an “interesting approach” — one that doctors would encourage. “And not surprisingly, they’re much more interested in the use of technology, when it comes to health care — so things like virtual interactions with health care providers, wearable devices that would track fitness and heart rate and things like that.”

As a whole, seven out of 10 Canadians would make virtual doctor’s visits a regular thing, if possible. That trend is being driven by those aged 18 and 34.

“Certainly, that is something they (Google generation) are interested in applying to the health care system as well. Virtual interactions with providers are not necessarily new for the system, we’ve had tele-medicine and tele-health for a while. But using that as sort of a core part of the interaction would be something different,” Blackmer said.

Shaping the Future of Health and Medicine


Young adults are also less concerned about privacy, when it comes to those virtual visits, and that can create some challenges.

“Even though we have a generation that might be more open to relinquishing some of those rights, doctors still have an obligation to protect that. So for example, if you’re a patient who is very comfortable with having an email interaction with your physician, the physician still has to make sure that email is encrypted,” Blackmer said.

Blackmer serves as the CMA’s vice president of medical professionalism.

As a whole, the report finds Canadians are also ready to embrace more technology. Over half of us would wear a mobile device that monitors health continuously.

Despite support for artificial intelligence and technology in general, roughly two-thirds of respondents were concerned about privacy and protection of personal health data. About the same proportion were worried about the potential loss of human touch and compassion.

 – With files from the Canadian Press