Canadians Could Gain 70 Million Hours per Year with Health IT: Conference Board of Canada

Secure access to online health information, tools could avoid 47 million in-person medical appointments

(Toronto, Ontario) – Canadians could have gained nearly 70 million hours of time in 2011 had they been able to consult with their health care providers, access test results (lab tests, MRIs, and X-rays) and request prescription renewals electronically, according to Valuing Time Saved:  Assessing the Impact of Patient Time Saved from the Adoption of Consumer Health Solutions, a new Conference Board of Canada Study commissioned by Canada Health Infoway.

“Improving the patient experience is an integral part of Canada’s health IT strategy,” said Richard Alvarez, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway. “Canadians need and want improved, faster access to more convenient health care, and access to their health information such as lab test results and immunization records, as well as secure online tools, can help accomplish this.” 

conf board time saved enThe study draws on a survey of nearly 3,200 Canadian adults conducted in April 2012. It asked respondents about recent health care experiences, time spent at appointments, and how often they felt that they could have avoided in-person visits or telephone calls had they been able to connect with health care providers and access their own health information online.

Based on survey responses, the study estimates that the potential for time saved by patients would translate into 18.8 million fewer hours off work, boosting potential output by $408-million.  It would also free up 51 million hours that could otherwise be spent on non-paid activities, such as education, volunteer work, and leisure.

The study also estimates that adult patients felt that they could have avoided nearly 47 million in-person visits in 2011 if they had been given electronic access to health information and tools.      

“The health care needs of Canadians show there is much to gain by way of time by supporting consumers to take on a more active role in the management of their care,” said Pedro Antunes, Director, National and Provincial Forecast, The Conference Board of Canada.  “By adding to the efficiency of our health care delivery, and freeing up patient time for work and non-paid activities, the benefits of electronic consumer health solutions extending beyond health care are becoming more evident.”

Study highlights:

  • Women aged 35-54 account for the highest number of visits per year that could have been avoided (9,534,020) for a total of 14,522,967 hours saved;
  • Canadians said the average amount of time spent on appointments ranged from 1.34 hours for men aged 18-34, to 1.65 hours for women, aged 18-34
  • Both men and women aged 18-54 reported that they would have avoided more than half of their regular doctor or place of care visits (54 per cent for men and 51 per cent for women) if they had had electronic access to health information and tools to connect with health care providers;
  • Those 55 and older said they would have been able to avoid more than 40 per cent of regular doctor or place of care visits (44 per cent for men and 42 per cent for women).

Read the full report.


About Canada Health Infoway

Canada Health Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government. Infoway jointly invests with every province and territory to accelerate the development and adoption of information and communications technology projects in Canada. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these secure systems will provide clinicians and patients with the information they need to better support safe care decisions and manage their own health. Accessing this vital information quickly will help foster a more modern and sustainable health care system for all Canadians.

About The Conference Board of Canada

 The Conference Board of Canada is the foremost independent, not-for-profit applied research organization in Canada.  We help build leadership capacity for a better Canada by creating and sharing insights on economic trends, public policy issues, and organizational performance. Our members include a broad range of Canadian organizations from the public and private sectors. 

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For more information, please contact:

Karen Schmidt
Director, Corporate/Internal Communications
Canada Health Infoway
Email Us

Brent Dowdall

Associate Director, Communications
The Conference Board of Canada
Tel: (613) 526-3090 x 448
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