Survey shows less than 18% of Western Canadians are managing their healthcare online

Canadians can order a pizza, a movie or a taxi online or from an app on their smartphone, but according to a new study conducted by Maru/VCR&C and commissioned by TELUS Health, Canada’s largest health IT company, Western Canadians are craving technology solutions that will allow them to better manage their healthcare.

Of those surveyed in the region, 90 per cent believe digital health technology will lead to better care, the most optimistic in the country behind Ontario at 92 per cent. In contrast, less than 18 per cent of Canadians living west of Ontario reported conducting any kind of health-related activity online.

At least 52 per cent of Western Canadians are unaware of services that are already available through electronic methods at medical offices, health clinics or pharmacies in some parts of these provinces. For example, only 32 per cent of British Columbians surveyed have viewed lab results online, which is still significantly ahead of the rest of the country: Ontario is a distant second at 17 per cent and then Saskatchewan at 12 per cent. Alberta is near the bottom at six per cent.

Technology is already changing how doctors care for and treat their patients. Dr. Marc Lindy, a podiatrist in Vancouver, has embraced technology tools in his practice “Electronic medical records add value to my practice. But on a day-to-day basis, it adds value to my life.

When I get after-hours calls, I can call the patient back easily with the mobile EMR app because I have their phone number in one click. I can see when they were in last, how often they’re in. That is not only easier for me, it’s a better outcome for the patient. Ultimately if you make it easier for me, I can make it more seamless for the patient.”

More from the TELUS Health Digital Life survey

  • Overall, Western Canadians surveyed ranked personal banking (72 per cent) and social media (49 per cent) among the most important things they do online, while access to personal medical records and online shopping both came in at 47 per cent.
  • Of those surveyed, 82 per cent of Western Canadians agreed that health information should be shared digitally between doctors and pharmacists, and 77 per cent agree that electronic prescriptions would limit the number of medical errors.
  • Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of Albertans and British Columbians surveyed believe that electronic medical records (EMRs) improve communication between doctors and their patients, with 69 per cent of people in Saskatchewan saying the same. An EMR replaces the paper charts doctors keep with a digital file to track all of a patient’s medical history, lab results and prescriptions in one place.
  • Canadians’ attitudes towards EMRs are overwhelmingly positive, though 57 per cent of respondents in the Prairies and British Columbia couldn’t say if their family doctor used one. Yet a 2015 Canadian Institute for Health Information study, shows that western provinces are ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to EMR adoption (British Columbia, 82 per cent; Alberta, 85 per cent; Saskatchewan, 83 per cent; and Manitoba, 73 per cent).
  • The majority of Canadians west of Ontario surveyed agree that EMRs provide accurate information to doctors about their patients (80 per cent), help doctors diagnose patients more effectively and more efficiently (73 per cent) and allow for safe and secure sharing of medical information with patients, pharmacists, other doctors and specialists (68 per cent).

The future of healthcare

“Our health is our most prized possession, and Canadians may not realize that by embracing technology we can all better manage our health and the health of our loved ones,” said Helene Chartier, Vice President, Go-to-Market, Strategy and Enablement, TELUS Health. “Whether it’s to refill your prescription online or to get an alert when your child’s medication runs low, we all need to ask our doctors how we can do more to technology to help understand our health.

The more we use digital tools to manage and share relevant health information with our doctors, the more ubiquitous this technology will become in our everyday lives and transform the way Canadians receive care.”

The TELUS Health Digital Life survey was in field from May 30 to June 3, 2016. The collected responses are balanced such that the results will be representative of Canada by region and age. Results are reported with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

About TELUS Health

TELUS Health is a leader in telehomecare, electronic medical and health records, consumer health, benefits management and pharmacy management. TELUS Health solutions give health authorities, providers, physicians, patients and consumers the power to turn information into better health outcomes. For more information about TELUS Health, please visit







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