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Canadians ready for more online access to health care: CMA

Last Updated Aug 8, 2019 at 10:46 am PDT


Most Canadians want the health care system to catch up to the rest of the online world, CMA says

Report finds more and more Canadians believe connecting data, technology, innovation can help cure ailing system

Canadians believe health care will be more accessible, will have a more positive impact on their lives by 2029: report

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –¬†Would you like to be able to track your medical appointments online? Access your records? See a virtual doctor?

It seems most Canadians are ready for a more modern, connected health care system, according to a report from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).

“Canada’s health care system needs an upgrade,” says CMA President Dr. Gigi Osler. “We are used to technology in our day-to-day lives. You can take a picture of a cheque and send it to the bank for deposit but hospitals are still relying on fax machines and pagers.”

The Future of Connected Health Care finds more and more Canadians believe that connecting data, technology and innovation can help cure an ailing system.

That includes tracking appointments online (79 per cent think this is likely to happen), to being able to access and share complete medical history with any doctor or health professional at any time (77 per cent) and even booking medical appointments through a robot (72 per cent).

The report suggests Canadians believe that by 2029, health care will be more accessible and will have a more positive impact on their lives, however Dr. Osler says there have been some concerns raised about technology leading to less compassionate care.

“I look at that from a different perspective,” she tells NEWS 1130. “Let’s have technology take care of the mundane administrative tasks so that doctors and health care providers can spend more time with patients together and increase the amount of compassion and human interaction possible.”

Many of those surveyed are also concerned about Canada’s ability to adopt virtual care, believing that governments, physicians and patients have been slow to embrace readily available methods.

“Canadians are used to an online experience that is seamless and user-friendly. Health care is not seamless and can not be as patient- and user-friendly is it could be, so bringing some of those aspects where technology can make the patient health care experience more accessible and more convenient is where some of the promises of technology can deliver on making health care more effective in Canada,” says Dr. Osler.

The report finds 84 per cent of Canadians are interested in the ability to access all their health information from one platform and 77 per cent agree access to their complete medical history and the ability to share it with any doctor at anytime is likely to happen within 10 years. Nine in 10 believe they should have full ownership of their health data and 95 per cent believe they should be the ones approving who gets access.

“That speaks to Canadians knowing more about their own health and taking an active role in monitoring it. They know their own data and they see that it’s in different locations — the hospital may have part of it, a specialist may have part of it and their regular family doctor may have some of their health data. They want it all together in one spot, one record, where different health care professionals can access it easier.”

Dr. Osler admits there are hurdles to building that kind of interconnectivity in Canada’s medical system, but says some of the groundwork has already been laid.

“It’s already happening. We know different hospitals or regions in the country that are using some of this technology, but it’s not connected and it’s not being scaled up across Canada. It’s technology that is here but we just don’t have the connectivity and we have to find ways to integrate it better,” she explains.

“What’s needed is for everyone — patients, doctors, health authorities and all levels of government — to start working together to help our strained medical system overcome hurdles, from funding to infrastructure to regulations to policy. It’s time we start moving forward on some of these discussions and the report shows that Canadians are eager and ready for it.”

-With files from Lasia Kretzel