Digital health reduces wait times by pulling Canadians out of the queue

Virtual visits, portals, mean more time for in-office visits

TORONTO, Feb. 16, 2017 /CNW/ - Digital health solutions improve access and reduce wait times for Canadians by avoiding certain in-person visits, said Michael Green, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway (Infoway). 

Earlier today, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) released a survey How Canada Compares:  Results From The Commonwealth Fund's 2016 International Health Policy Survey of Adults in 11 Countries, which shows that Canadians report some of the longest wait times for doctors, specialists and emergency department visits compared to citizens in peer countries. 

"These findings remind us that Canada can learn from other nations and explore how digital health solutions can be used to address wait times and access barriers.," said Michael Green, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway. 

Recent studies indicate the vast majority of Canadians want access to digital health solutions.  Federal investments through Infoway, and collaboration with the provinces, territories, clinicians and other partners has helped double its availability in Canada over the last two years. 

Patient portals, telehomecare and virtual visits are some of the solutions helping Canadians avoid getting in line for certain GP and emergency department visits, increasing access for those who need or prefer a face-to-face appointment. 

Infoway's consumer health strategy aims to provide more Canadians with secure access to their health information, telehomecare solutions that reduce hospitalization and reliance on Emergency Departments, and other digital health services. 

"With support from the Government of Canada, Infoway is working with its partners to connect Canadians to their health information, their care teams and digital tools in order to maintain the momentum that is already driving increased access to care and reducing wait times," added Green.    

Below are some examples of digital health solutions that are increasing access and reducing wait times: 

Patient portals

  • In Nova Scotia, 91 per cent of individuals who used MyHealthNS, a province-wide patient portal, to send a message seeking medical advice said they might have otherwise made an in-person appointment to see their doctor.  Source: (NS PHR-Pilot Evaluation).
  • British Columbians who received their lab results online were significantly less likely to need an in-person visit to receive or discuss their most recent lab results (59 per cent vs. 83 per cent) Source:  (BC Direct Access to Labs Study).

Virtual Visits

  • 57 per cent of BC residents who had a virtual visit with a primary care provider said they avoided an in-person visit with their doctor/regular place of care.  Source:  (BC Virtual Visits Patient Survey)

Telehomecare

  • 86 per cent of telehomecare patients indicated less need to visit an emergency department while receiving remote care in their own homes.  Source: (OTN). 

About Canada Health Infoway
Infoway helps to improve the health of Canadians by working with partners to accelerate the development, adoption and effective use of digital health across Canada. Through our investments, we help deliver better quality and access to care and more efficient delivery of health services for patients and clinicians. Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government.

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SOURCE Canada Health Infoway

For further information: Dan Strasbourg, Director, Media Relations, Canada Health Infoway, Tel: (416) 595-3424, @Infoway

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