Survey: Most Canadians want, but do not use, digital health tools

By Heather Mack
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They may want it, but, for one reason or another, they aren’t using it. While nearly 90 percent of Canadians said in a recent survey that they want digital health technologies – believing it leads to better healthcare – only a small percentage are actually taking advantage of tools, according to a recent survey of over a thousand Canadians.
 
The survey of 1,009 adults, which was conducted by Maru/VCR&C and commissioned by Telus Health, found at least 85 percent of Canadians aren’t taking advantage of the digital tools available, such as accessing their electronic medical records via a portal. At least half of them weren't even aware that such services were already available at medical offices, clinics or pharmacies in some parts of the country.
 
When it comes to top-ranking online activities, fewer than half of Canadians spend their time accessing medical records. This is slightly below how much time they spend on social media and shopping, and far below personal banking (where 75 percent of Canadians spend their time online).
 
That’s not because they don’t trust EHRs. The majority of Canadians (80 percent) surveyed agreed that electronic records provide accurate information to their doctors. Three quarters of them believe EHRs help doctors diagnose more effectively and allow for safe and secure sharing of information with patients, pharmacists, other doctors and specialists. Canadians’ attitudes towards EHRs are overwhelmingly positive, but more than half of respondents couldn’t say if their family doctor used one. (According to a 2015 Canadian Institute for Health Information study, 73 percent of Canadian primary care physicians use EHRs).
 
“Both physicians and patients have significantly changed their attitudes towards digital communication over the past few years,” says Dr. Sacha Bhatia, a cardiologist in Toronto said in a statement about the survey. “Doctors are much more comfortable communicating with patients and other healthcare providers using electronic means. I also think patients have seen the benefits of the internet and online services in their daily lives, and they expect to be able to have those same benefits when accessing health services.”