As Canadian seniors become increasingly tech-savvy, they expect to manage their health care with the same ease as buying a book or purchasing a movie ticket online. A recent survey by Accenture showed that Internet use by seniors has tripled over the past ten years, with 60 percent of Canadian seniors now being active online users.
Among the things that Canadian seniors want to be able to do is access their health records, refill prescriptions electronically and email health care professionals. Only very small percentages of seniors are able to do any of these things at the moment.
So far, only 14 percent of the seniors surveyed said that they could access their medical records online. In Alberta, seniors have access to their records through the Alberta Netcare EHR program. But other provinces have been slow to implement similar systems. In addition, the cost of converting records from paper to secure online records can be preventative for health care providers. However, the overall management cost reduction of moving records online and incentives from government are spurring providers to move away from paper.
Pharmacies are responsible for fulfilling this online demand. Many do currently offer an online refill program, including Shoppers Drug Mart. While only 14% of seniors currently use these programs, more may be doing so if they actually knew about them. Marketing and point-of-sale displays on the part of the pharmacies would solve this problem.
While 46 percent of the respondents stated that they would like the ability to email their doctors and specialists, this is something that is unlikely to happen soon, unless a doctor is willing to engage electronically with their patients. Given the demands on their time, most doctors will probably not want to implement this.
There are a number of online options available to anyone who wants to manage their fitness levels and track ongoing management of conditions such as diabetes. There are apps available to track blood sugar levels for diabetics, fitness apps which help you meet lifestyle targets, and many more. Chances are good that there is an app or website available to help you with any medical condition; the key is to make sure that it is coming from a trusted source, such as a national association or a health care provider.
New programs are coming online all the time to help Canadians manage their health care; investigate the ones that directly affect you to see when you can expect the services you want to be digitized.