Canadian Nurses Poised for Digital Health Leadership

First-ever quantitative survey of Canadian nurses explores access, usage and impact on practice

(Toronto) – An inaugural survey* undertaken jointly by the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) reveals that 83 per cent of Canadian nurses are comfortable using digital health tools in practice and approximately three-quarters feel digital health tools could improve continuity of care (78 per cent) and patient safety (72 per cent).

“The vast majority of Canadian nurses recognize digital health as a key enabler to help deliver better patient care and improved efficiency, yet 57 per cent say that the legacy systems and tools at their disposal are not adequate for their role,” said CNA President Barb Mildon. “The survey has provided valuable insight into how the health community can intensify the implementation of digital health tools, what strengths can be built upon, and what gaps we need to close.”

While nurses recognize that digital health tools present a range of benefits for both themselves and their patients, there are a number of factors impacting the full realization of digital health in nursing practice. Some of the barriers cited include the use of both paper and electronic systems to access patient information (61 per cent), having multiple log-ins to access different clinical systems (54 per cent) and inadequate types of tools and access for their roles. Those nurses currently using digital health tools use them mainly to enter and retrieve patient notes (65 per cent).

“Nurses require access to evidence-based information at the point of care to provide the best care possible,” said Maureen Charlebois, Chief Nursing Executive, Canada Health Infoway. “Addressing these types of barriers can present opportunities to enhance patient care, clinician satisfaction and productivity. Infoway is very focused on working collaboratively with nurses and other clinical leaders to help accelerate the development, adoption and effective use of digital health in practice across Canada.”

The CNA/Infoway Partnership

Both the CNA and Infoway recognize the importance of nursing engagement and leadership in advancing professional practice through digital health. The partnership to conduct this research not only provides insights, but also supports the strategies outlined in the CNA's National Expert Commission Report: A Nursing Call to Action and the Infoway clinical engagement strategy.

The CNA's National Expert Commission Report: A Nursing Call to Action was released in September 2012. The year-long research explored the current state of the health of Canadians along with system transformations required to sustain quality care into the future. One of the areas examined is technology and CNA identified that increasing Canadians’ access to electronic health information and services is a priority to help improve the health status of Canadians and the performance of the health system.

Infoway’s clinical engagement strategy brings together clinicians in leadership, practice, and education to ensure clinical value is achieved in digital health. As a result, Infoway supports nurses and other clinicians in the ongoing adoption and use of digital health in Canada through investments in modern point of care solutions, clinical peer leader networks to share best practices, clinicians-in-training initiatives to help prepare new graduates to practice effectively in technology-enabled environments, change management tools and resources, and engaging clinicians to advise on projects and strategy.


About the Canadian Nurses Association

CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. A federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and colleges representing 151,404 registered nurses, CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.

About Canada Health Infoway

Funded by the federal government, Infoway helps to improve the health of Canadians by working with partners to accelerate the development, adoption and effective use of digital health across Canada. Through our investments, we help deliver better quality and access to care and more efficient delivery of health services for patients and clinicians.

* The survey was conducted between February 22 and March 26, 2014 by Harris/Decima through email and print invitations to participate in the survey. In total, 1,094 surveys were completed. A random probability sample of this size would yield a margin of error of plus or minus 3 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence level.

For more information, please see the Backgrounder.

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For more information:

Karen Schmidt
Director, Corporate/Internal Communications
Canada Health Infoway
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Kate Headley

External Communications Coordinator
Canadian Nurses Association
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