Canadian Medical Association

New CMA report addresses growing health care generation gap driven by tech-savvy Canadians 18-34

New findings released by the CMA show that young adults between 18 and 34 are frequent users of the health care system with a self-reported average of 11 or more visits to a doctor each year. 

The Google Generation is also the most eager adopter of technology to manage their own health. The CMA warns that to address the current and future impact of this generation on the health care system, policy changes and actions are urgently needed to scale up technology adoption in health care.

“Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual monitoring provide an opportunity to address the health needs of the Google Generation as they embrace technology in all facets of their lives. The way this generation manages and tracks their health is much different than any other demographic group,” says Dr. Laurent Marcoux, CMA President. “To ensure we are ready to tackle this new wave of tech savvy patients, we need to have the right policies as well as action plans to futurize our health care ecosystem.”

Scaling Up Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Visits

The findings of an Ipsos survey commissioned by the CMA in May narrowed in on Canadians’ perception and acceptance of technology in health care. The report, Shaping the Future of Health & Medicine, found that 3 out of 4 Canadians (75%) believe that new technologies could solve existing issues in our health care system.

The report comes on the eve of the CMA’s inaugural Health Summit, August 20-21 in Winnipeg. The event will assemble more than 700 physicians, policy-makers, innovators, patients, and health stakeholders to discuss how technology and innovation can lead to a future of better health.

Among the report’s key findings:

Google Generation ready for AI and virtual care, less concerned with privacy. They:

  • are more likely to take advantage of virtual doctor visits (47% more than half/all of their visits, compared to 37% for general population)
  • track their health with wearable technology (44%, compared to 27% general population)
  • are less concerned about privacy when it comes to virtual visits (51%, compared to 58% 55+) and believe that the privacy and ethics have not been fully thought out in the implementation of AI in health care (66%, compared to 72% 55+)

Patients are ready for more technology; Canada’s health care is not.

  • 7 in 10 Canadians would take advantage of virtual physician visits and many believe that it would lead to more timely care, convenience and overall care.
  • Over half (56%) would likely wear a mobile device that monitored their health continuously.
  • 70% of Canadians believe that incorporating more technology into personal health care can help prevent illnesses and 64% say that given a choice, they would go to a physician who incorporates more technology into their practice.
  • 6 in 10 Canadians are excited about AI’s potential in health care but would only trust the diagnosis if delivered by a physician.

Canadians are more concerned with loss of human touch than privacy of personal information.

  • Regardless of their enthusiasm for more technology in their health and health care, Canadians are concerned with the potential loss of human touch (67%) and accuracy of diagnosis (64%) – more than they are concerned with the privacy of their personal information (54%).
  • However, 7 out of 10 are concerned that privacy and ethics have not been fully thought out in the implementation of AI in health care.

“We need to look at this information as a warning sign,” adds Dr. Marcoux. “Every generation presents a new challenge to our health care system, but with the Google Generation, health care is about convenience and timeliness, and the current system does not provide for that.”

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