The Future of Virtual Care in Canada

A major topic of conversation for both health care providers and patients alike is the frustration of health care delivery not aligning more quickly to our lives. We are using technology at our fingertips for so many things in our daily activities and workplaces, and yet that seems to halt at healthcare access. 

A very interesting survey by Deloitte conducted in the United States of how the end consumer and the physician each view virtual care and what it has to offer. It shows that consumers are incredibly curious and willing to give virtual care a try, but are concerned about deliverables. The interesting thing is, consumers are already taking matters into their own hands. Half of those surveyed were already using mobile apps or wearables to track their health information ( ie.fitbits), so we can gather that patients are willing to make the leap and use virtual care to engage and be treated by an actual physician. 

If we look at the physicians' side of this same survey, concerns relating to data security were voiced by a third of the physicians surveyed, and issues like medical errors with virtual care were another big concern. Physicians surveyed showed significant interest in the ability of virtual care to improve overall access to health care, and improve patient satisfaction. In the end, the major hold ups were surrounding system implementation.

And the same issue can be found right here in Canada. There is a lot of interest in virtual care. After all, approximately 1 in 5 Canadians live in rural communities. That's 6.3 million Canadians that in theory, might welcome the advancement of virtual care, eliminating travel to another community to see a doctor, taking time off work, and wait times. Canadians in both urban and rural locations have shown interest in virtual care, but it does not come without concerns.

Among other concerns, data breaches remain one of the biggest concerns for potential users of virtual care in Canada. This Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) article outlines a poll that was taken on the future of connected health care. 

According to the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), it will push for safeguards surrounding security and confidentiality of sensitive health-care data. 

No doubt there is a lot of work to be done here in Canada to modernise our health care system and bring it more fully into the evolving digital realm, but it does not come without a lot of investment and steps are to ensure patient data security and confidentiality. This year's CMA 2019 Health Summit – Connected in Care – looks to build on last year's momentum and continue to drive the conversations into action. We are excited at the possibilities!

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Thursday, 07 December 2023