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Has Anyone Asked the Patient?

Citizens'Vision for Better Health

Posted on August 15, 2017 by Kate Perkins

There is a lot happening in the digital health space — almost too much to wrap our heads around. To ensure clinician uptake, it is essential that digital health solutions and tools can be seamlessly integrated into clinician workflow. But what is becoming increasingly apparent is that the needs of patients are equally important. Since patients are an equal partner in their health care, doesn’t it make sense they have a say in which digital health tools are developed?

Digital health awareness is at an all-time high (75 per cent).1 And Canadians feel it’s important for the health care system to be taking full advantage of digital health tools and capabilities right now (96 per cent).1

So, the question remains, has anyone asked patients what they want? The answer is YES! Many clinicians, health application and system developers and health care organizations throughout Canada have recognized the importance of patient input. In the last few years, there has been a lot of work undertaken to understand what Canadians need and want, and a tremendous effort to deliver on these desires.

In a 2016, Infoway commissioned the Connecting Patients for Better Health survey, which over three years, asked more than 6,000 Canadians what their level of awareness, understanding and perceived benefits of digital health were, as well as current access and use of these services in Canada.

This is what Canadians who don’t already have access to these services said they wanted:

  • 70 per cent said they want to be able to send a request electronically for a prescription
  • 70 per cent said they want to view a list of their current prescriptions and medication history electronically
  • 69 per cent said they want to access their medical records electronically
  • 69 per cent said they want to view their immunization records electronically
  • 68 per cent said they want to view laboratory test results electronically
  • 67 per cent said they want to e-book appointments with their doctor online
  • 55 per cent said they want to have e-consultations with their doctor 1

The good news is that Canada is moving in the right direction to give patients what they want. Growth in the availability of consumer digital health services has more than doubled between 2014 and 2016. Canadians are currently using a variety of online solutions to book an appointment (e-book) (17 per cent), request a prescription renewal (e-request) (22 per cent), view their health information (e-view) (20 per cent) or consult with their doctor (e-visit) (14 per cent).1

Further to the 2016 study, Infoway recently convened a group of Canadians for the Better Health Together Workshop, where participants were guided in a two-day program of facilitated roundtable deliberations and activities to distinguish “what patient’s want.” The Citizens' Vision for Better Health through Digital Solutions was the outcome of this Workshop. This Vision outlines what some of the high priorities for Canadians are when it comes to their health care and provided Infoway with a better understanding of what to keep top of mind when it comes to digital health for Canadians. The infographic below gives the details of the Vision.

We have quite a ways to go to get where we need to be. It is clear that everyone who is involved needs to have a voice in the future of digital health, and there is a conscious effort to provide a voice to all. Don’t stay silent — if you have an idea, suggestion, or frustration don’t just #thinkdigitalhealth, but:

  • Be active on social media: There are many groups/communities and conversations happening on social platforms.
  • Join a patient advocacy group: There are endless choices when it comes to patient advocacy groups. Most hospitals have patient groups, but there are also many health associations and independent groups to join. My advice is to google search: patient group or patient advocates to see some options.
  • Talk to your doctor: Have a conversation with your family doctor to learn what services are available to you. Learn how you can be an active partner in your health care.

1 Connecting Patients for Better Health: 2016. Canada Health Infoway. 2016

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Kate PerkinsKate Perkins 

As part of the Communications team at Infoway, Kate is responsible for executing communications and marketing functions in support of her clients. She received an Honours Bachelor of Applied Arts in Media Studies and a Diploma in Public Relations.

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