Why Canadians Want Healthcare To Step Up To The Digital Age Right Now
A recent study released by TELUS Health that gathered feedback from 1,000 adults from Quebec, half of whom suffer from chronic illness, offered several insights into what many Canadians believe to be the problems — and the solution — to the current state of healthcare.
Forty-two percent of respondents indicated that they’re dissatisfied with their current access to care and 50% are dissatisfied with the efficiency of the current healthcare system in general. And, when asked about their thoughts on how to resolve these issues, Quebecers overwhelmingly indicated that technology-aided health services would provide major benefits and give them the opportunity to play an active role in managing their personal health.
In addition to the desire to communicate with their doctors via email, those surveyed indicated several additional compelling reasons to connect electronically to physicians and clinicians including:
- Scheduling appointments online (78%)
- Receiving advice concerning new health problems (68%)
- Reviewing lab results (67%).
Quebecers also said that electronic access would:
- Cut down the number of non-critical emergency room visits (94%)
- Enable a quicker response/diagnosis from a health professional (93%)
- Reduce visits to the family doctor (90%)
- Play an active part in increasing the efficiency of the healthcare system (90%).
While it’s true that an electronic health record (EHR) has the potential to make significant improvements to Canadians’ (and Americans’) healthcare system, many of the concerns outlined above from the survey could actually be addressed most effectively by a technology that’s complementary to the EHR – telehealth. Vishal Brown, Yorktel vice president of Professional Services, talked about this technology in an earlier blog, titled: Telehealth Kiosks: A Patient Care Game-Changer.
Telehealth kiosks not only appeal to do-it-yourself consumers, but also to those who are eager to find an alternative to long waits at doctors’ offices, long drives to see specialists, and costly non-critical emergency room visits.
The latest telehealth kiosks can do far more than just check blood pressure, too; they capture weight, height, and demographic data, such as age for starters. Some kiosks can even test vision.
The real game changer with these kiosks, however, occurs when they connect users to live videoconferences with a physician who, teamed with a medical assistant on-site, can use a stethoscope, otoscope, dermascope, and other diagnostic equipment and provide meaningful diagnoses on the spot. Moreover, even before a patient interacts with a virtual doctor, the kiosks can quiz them about their symptoms, so that the doctor begins the conference with that information, thereby streamlining the video interaction and more quickly arriving at a diagnosis.
The state of healthcare in Canada and here in the United States is in the midst of a difficult, yet much-needed change. Like any change, it often comes with setbacks and challenges and requires persistence and patience. Knowing that technologies like telehealth are available, they’re becoming more widely adopted, and they have the potential to alleviate many of the problems plaguing healthcare, should provide hope to many that there is light at the end of the tunnel.