Canadian Medical Association

Ottawa (ON) – August 8, 2019 – New findings released today in a Canadian Medical Association (CMA) report show more and more Canadians believe that connecting data, technology and innovation can help cure their ailing health care system. The report, entitled The future of connected health care, explores Canadians’ perspectives on health care today and the advance of technology such as AI, virtual care and patient platforms.

“Today, we’ve become accustomed to doing almost everything online. And Canadians are clear: they want the same when it comes to managing their health and their journey through the health care system,” says Dr. Gigi Osler, CMA president. “We need everyone, including various levels of government, to help our strained medical system overcome many hurdles – from funding to regulations to policies.”

Within the next 10 years, Canadians expect the health care system to catch up to other industries in offering an online experience. From tracking appointments online (79% 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%) and even booking medical appointments through a robot (72%), Canadians believe that by 2029, health care will be more accessible and will have a more positive impact on their lives. However, they remain concerned about Canada’s ability to adopt virtual care, believing that governments, physicians and patients have been slow to embrace readily available methods.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Canadians are ready for an Amazon-like online experience in health care:
    • 84% are interested in the ability to access all their health information from one platform and 77% 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% believe they should be the ones approving who gets access.
    • 69% believe having their information in one electronic platform will reduce the chances of medical errors.
    • Almost half (46%) of Canadians indicated being willing to input their personal health data into a program like Alexa, Siri or Fitbit and 44 % would allow the program to monitor their health and report any issue with a health professional.
  • Patients are ready for virtual care but worry about opening the door to private health care:
    • Roughly two-thirds of Canadians are interested in consulting with various health care providers through a virtual platform. While younger Canadians show greater interest, six in 10 of those 55+ are also highly interested.
    • Half of Canadians believe virtual care is a step in the right direction, but a majority (77%) worry about the loss of human connection and compassion or opening the door to private health care (71%).
  • To pay or to be paid?
    • At the same time, 43% of Canadians agree they would pay a subscription fee to have 24/7 access to a family physician, while 34% would pay to have an expanded array of health professionals available at their convenience.
    • Six in 10 Canadians also believe they should be compensated for sharing their personal health data.

The Ipsos poll was conducted between June 26th and July 2nd, 2019, on behalf of the CMA. For this survey, a sample of 2,005 Canadians aged 18+ were interviewed. The poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The report comes a few days before the 2019 CMA Health Summit (Aug. 12-13), which will see more than 850 physicians, policy-makers, innovators, patients, and health stakeholders converge on Toronto to discuss how to create a more connected health care system for Canadians.

The event will feature leading thinkers in the innovation space, including:

  • Dr. Divya Chander, a physician and neuroscientist from Stanford University
  • Dr. Alexandra Greenhill, one of Canada’s leading physicians in digital health innovation
  • Dr. Alex Jadad, the founder of eHealth Innovation at the University Health Network
  • Salim Ismail, a serial entrepreneur and a member of the board of the XPRIZE Foundation
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