Access to Digital Health Services Transforming Physicians’ Approach to Patient Care in Canada

(Toronto) – Physician access to connected health information in Canada is now high, yet Canadians’ access to virtual care services is limited, according to a new study conducted by Canada Health Infoway (Infoway).

The 2018 Canadian Physician Survey (2018 CPS) is the first national survey of physicians exclusively focused on the use of digital health technologies in practice. It was developed and conducted in collaboration with national physician associations, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and the Canadian Medical Directory (Scotts Directories).

Close to 1,400 practising physicians completed the survey, which covers topics such as electronic medical record (EMR) adoption and use, access to connected health information and patient access to virtual care services.

According to the 2018 CPS, four per cent of primary care physicians and nine per cent of specialists say that patients in their practice can visit with them online via a face-to-face virtual visit — a digital service that interests more than 40 per cent of Canadians, according to another recent Infoway survey.

The 2018 CPS also found that:

  • 84 per cent of primary care physicians and 89 per cent of specialists report that they have access to connected health information from care settings outside their main practice.
  • 82 per cent of primary care physicians and 77 per cent of specialists say they provide more efficient care with electronic records.
  • 31 per cent of primary care physicians report optimized EMR use.
  • 38 per cent of primary care physicians and 47 per cent of specialist physicians currently offer patients at least one virtual care or e-service. This is mainly driven by practices/clinics becoming more accessible to patients via email communication (24 per cent of primary care and 40 per cent of specialist practices/clinics), but the majority of physicians do not spend any time during their day electronically communicating with patients.

“Canadians continue to tell us that they want access to digitally-enabled health services, including the ability to email their doctors and book appointments online,” said Michael Green, President & CEO, Infoway. “Canadians deserve modern, 21st century health services, and our goal is to provide them with access to digital services that will improve their care experiences and health outcomes.”

Download the 2018 Canadian Physician Survey.

About Canada Health Infoway

Canada Health 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. Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government.


Media inquiries:

Karen Schmidt
Director, Corporate/Internal Communications
Canada Health Infoway
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