Founded in 2001, Canada Health Infoway is a federally-funded, not-for-profit organization whose role is to help improve health and health care by collaborating with every province and territory to propel Canada’s move from paper to digital health.
From 2007 to 2012, an estimated $8.6 billion in benefits accrued to Canadians and the health care system as a result of investments in electronic medical records, telehealth, drug information systems and diagnostic imaging solutions alone.
Electronic records can help doctors in the Emergency Room when patients are brought in unconscious. Dr. Kendall Ho, an ER doctor in British Columbia, said with the help of e-records, he can understand what medical issues may pre-exist, which helps with the current situation at hand, or dealing with the injury.
Telehealth has proven to be very successful for many in rural and remote communities. Nicky is a little boy who was adopted with a badly burned hand. He needed specialized care. His mother Heather said some of the easier follow up and keeping in touch has been much less stressful with all of the new technology. Being able to have real conversations in real time where doctors can see Nicky’s hand instead of just hearing descriptions has made a big difference.
Monique always had a positive attitude, so it was not surprising that her cancer diagnosis was devastating. “I felt a tsunami of emotions,” she says. “It would have been different if digital health had not been available. For me, it brought a lot of reassurance.”
She says she feels lucky to be able to access digital health. She was referred to the Centre intérgré de cancérologie de Laval. From the moment she arrives at the centre, she knows she is being cared for. She swipes her card through the card reader near the entrance, then the health team knows she is on site.
“You don’t even take a number,” she says with a laugh. Because of the instantaneous and central nature of the e-health records, everyone at the centre can have access to her files, making for better communication and quality of service with all her health care providers.
She also believes it makes for closer relationships between her, her doctors and her nurses.
Story after story on digital health reflects same thing: Clear record-keeping, almost instantaneous access to records and availability to multiple health care providers. This results in more collaboration, and therefore, more peace of mind for patients.
A big bonus is improved wait times. Reduced waiting times may seem like a small consideration, but to those with complex health regimes, the time saved adds up quickly. They get back to normal life that much sooner.
As for Monique, “I feel looked after,” she says.