Canadians’ Perceptions of e-Prescribing

By Bobby Gheorghiu

We live in an age where technology enables people to instantly communicate with one another. So, it may come as a surprise to some that many prescriptions are still handwritten or printed and sent to pharmacies using a fax machine. In fact, a 2021 survey of Canadian physicians revealed 43% still use fax to send prescriptions.

Canadians’ Perceptions of e-Prescribing

The Canadian health care system continues to lag other industries such as banking, mass transportation, media, communication, and logistics among others when it comes to digitization. However, Canadians' appetite for digital health services and solutions is growing. When Infoway asked Canadians if they would like to have a prescription sent electronically to their pharmacy by their physician, 82% agreed — the top choice among many other health-related processes where Canadians would like more digitization.

e-Prescriptions, such as those enabled by PrescribeIT®, Canada’s electronic prescription service, offer Canadian patients and clinicians not only the speed and convenience of electronic communication but also a more secure alternative to paper and faxed prescriptions that can be lost or damaged. More than 750 million prescriptions are dispensed in Canada every year, and as a result many Canadians have been impacted by this less-than-perfect paper-based process. In fact, an estimated four million Canadians admitted to losing or damaging a prescription and 700,000 of them ended up not obtaining their medications as a result, potentially negatively impacting their health outcomes.

The past two years have significantly shifted the way that health care is delivered in Canada. Virtual care has shown to be a great alternative to in-person care, where appropriate, especially in the midst of a pandemic. However, this experience has also demonstrated that some care processes can be made more efficient through the use of technology. 75% of Canadians would like to renew their prescriptions electronically, enabling them to save time and avoid a potentially unnecessary in-person visit to the doctor. 65% of Canadians would also choose a virtual visit over an in-person visit when renewing a prescription.

Virtual visits, conducted by video, telephone or even electronic messaging, when coupled with an electronic prescription service such as PrescribeIT®, can make our health care system more efficient and allow it to catch up to most other aspects of our lives where technology has revolutionized the way we live.

Visit the Infoway Insights website to browse additional data about what digital health services Canadians want and what they can currently access electronically.

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About the author
Bobby Gheorghiu

Bobby Gheorghiu

Bobby Gheorghiu works with stakeholders in academia, private and public sectors to develop and monitor performance targets for initiatives such as PrescribeIT®, Canada’s national e-prescribing service, to ensure widespread adoption of technology and to demonstrate tangible benefits of investments in digital health. He holds an MHSc in Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation from the University of Toronto.