Canadians want to manage their health care online: CMA report

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Canadians expect to manage their health care needs online as they do most other aspects of their lives like banking. This finding was revealed in a recent polling by Ipsos, outlined in the new Canadian Medical Association (CMA) report The Future of Connected Health Care.

From tracking appointments online (79%), to being able to access and share a complete medical history (77%) and even book medical appointments through a robot (72%), Canadians believe the health care system is likely to offer these advancements in the next ten years.

At the same time, Canadians are also willing to offer up more of their data, with almost half (44%) of those surveyed this summer indicating a willingness to input personal health data into a program like Alexa, Siri or Fitbit, to allow their health to be monitored, and to report any issues to a health professional.

But health regulations, licensing and funding models need to change to accommodate this technological shift.

By adopting an online experience, many patients who end up staggering into the ER: people with coughs, sore throats, or back pain, would be able to be re-direct to where they could get prompt attention instead of facing long waits in ER. These patients, finding them a same-day appointment at their family doctor or an after-hours clinic.

The challenge is integrating technologies support and innovate the health care system.

Currently one Montreal-area hospital is working on a pilot that will see a new software system loaded on the hospital computers and the office computers of participating clinics. It will allow the nurses to identify the re-directed patients, book them an appointment and send notes to the clinic – all in less than a minute.

According to a media report, this same software has been able to successfully re-direct about 10% of all ER patients, which would work out to more than 5,000 patients per year at Moncton Hospital.

The report also highlighted broad support for virtual care, with roughly two-thirds of Canadians surveyed expressing interest in consulting with various health care providers through a virtual platform. While younger Canadians showed greater interest, six in 10 people aged 55 or older are also highly interested.

The Future of Connected Health Care is being released on the eve of the 2019 CMA Health Summit Opens in a new window in Toronto. Many of the report’s findings about the need for advancements in health technology are being discussed at the event, with sessions on the value of virtual care, using tech to build better connections in health, and what advancements in AI, big data and connectivity can mean for medicine.

Physicians, medical learners, patients and policy-makers from across Canada are expected to attend the summit. -CINEWS

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