Q & A with Canada Health Infoway

1. How is digital health improving the health of Canadians?

Canadians from coast to coast to coast are using digital health tools to manage their health and wellness. In fact, a recent Harris/Decima survey reveals 89 per cent of Canadians feel it is important that they personally have full advantage of digital health tools and capabilities. For example, Brian Campkin is taking advantage of digital health to manage chronic illness. Brian uses the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s online risk assessment tool to monitor his heart following emergency triple bypass surgery. Sara Nita, featured on this month’s cover, and her son Marcus, who has Type 1 diabetes, use a smartphone app to track and monitor Marcus’ blood glucose levels, and to exchange information and results with his health team.

To hear more about Brian, Sara and stories from other Canadians, or to submit your own digital health story, visit betterhealthtogether.ca

2. What can digital health tools do for me?

Among other benefits, digital health can help foster better overall health, supporting you in taking a more active role in the management of your health and wellness. It also makes health care more convenient, which is especially important if you must take time off from work or school to attend appointments. According to a recent Conference Board of Canada Study, adult patients could have avoided nearly 47 million in-person visits in 2011 if they had been given the choice of consulting with health-care providers, having access to their test results, and having their prescriptions renewed electronically.

3. How has digital health benefitted the Canadian health care system so far?

Recent benefits evaluation studies that were commissioned by Canada Health Infoway have shown that Canadians and their providers are reaping the benefits of digital health. An estimated $7.7 billion in benefits have accrued to Canadians and the health care system as a result of investments in telehealth, drug information systems and diagnostic imaging solutions. Some highlights include:
•From 2006 to 2012, electronic medical records in Canada resulted in cumulative efficiency and patient care benefits valued at more than $1.3 billion.
•Telehealth saved more than 47 million kilometres in travel and $70 million in personal travel costs for patients and their families in 2010 alone.
•Drug information systems reduce prescription errors and result in fewer adverse drug events with estimated benefits of $436 million in 2010.
•The use of digital diagnostic imaging has shown benefits in terms of: improved productivity for doctors and technologists; improved remote reporting capabilities; and improved access to care. As these systems are fully implemented and in use across Canada, estimated benefits could grow to between $850 million and $1 billion per year.

Richard Alvarez, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway Have a question for Richard Alvarez?  Send it to info@ottawalife.com