Digital Health Week 2019: Join the Celebration!

Digital Health Week has been on our calendars since 2014, and it keeps getting bigger and better every year, thanks to you and others who continue to join in this national celebration of all things digital health.

As we all know, declaring a special day, week, month or year can shine a spotlight on a cause and increase awareness about it. Just think of International Women’s Day, which celebrates women and girls on March 8 every year and brings attention to efforts aimed at gender balance. Or Movember, which is now the largest men’s health movement in the world. We felt that digital health was worthy of recognition and we wanted to celebrate our collective achievements, so we successfully petitioned Health Canada to recognize a Digital Health
Week on its calendar of awareness days/weeks.

We had ambitious plans and, while Digital Health Week hasn’t resulted in front page coverage in our mainstream media, it has more than exceeded our expectations in other areas. Let me explain.

Digital Health Week has been a catalyst for bringing us together as an industry. Since the first celebration in 2014, stakeholders from across the digital health industry have participated in this awareness week. Governments, national and regional health organizations, clinician groups, patient groups and industry vendors have all written about, tweeted, shared, and otherwise participated in planned Digital Health Week activities, or made up their own. For example, last year alone more than 80 Participating Organizations generated more than 32 million impressions including eight million media impressions. And we trended on Twitter. That’s no small feat!

Digital Health Week is a celebration. From the beginning, we’ve billed the week as a time for each of us to reflect on the progress we’ve made and to take the time to really celebrate what we’ve accomplished, individually and collectively. We have 51 weeks in the year to think about the challenges of digital health, including why we can’t move faster, and the enormous workload that’s ahead of us, but for one week every November, we celebrate! We all know how important it is to celebrate wins, no matter how small they might seem on their own. When taken together, each step gets us closer to our goal of improving the health and lives of Canadians through digital health.

Digital Health Week allows us to celebrate together — to toot our own horns and to collectively marvel at and be proud of what we’ve done to improve health and health care in Canada. If you’ve competed in a sport on your own, or you’ve been part of a team, you know what I mean. Success is sweet either way, but when it comes time to celebrate that success, it’s more fun to do it with a group. So yay us!

We’ve got lots of reasons to celebrate. Thirty billion in fact. Digital health has resulted in $30 billion in benefits to Canadians and our health system since 2007. That number will continue to grow as we work together to provide Canadians with better access to their health information and to digitally-enabled health tools and services.

Something new this year. Digital Health Week is now part of ACCESS 2022, a social movement to capture the hearts and minds of everyone who can work together to change our health system. Our vision is for a new day in health care in Canada. A day when all Canadians can access the health system when and how they want to. We know they want digital access, so let’s celebrate what we’re doing to meet their needs. You can learn more at access2022.ca.

So, where do we go from here? I think we need to continue to recognize and celebrate progress. I also hope we can expand the party. Digital health is not the panacea for our health system, but it can help us address some of the access, quality and efficiency issues that are increasingly plaguing us. While many Canadians are embracing digital health, just as they have embraced online banking and shopping, some are still hesitant due to misinformation or lack of information about certain aspects of digital health. We can work together to raise awareness and debunk myths about digital health, such as:

  • Patients who access their lab test results online won’t be able to understand them because they are too complicated;
  • Patients who view these results online before talking to their doctor will be overly anxious;
  • Doctors will be flooded with calls if patients have access to their lab results online;
  • The quality of care offered in a virtual visit is not as good as the care in a face-to-face visit;
  • Digital health is only for the young and tech savvy; and
  • Digital health will marginalize vulnerable populations and populations who may not have online access.

Infoway has been busting myths like these for a few years now and we’ve developed a number of easily digestible infographics that include a myth, a fact or facts that debunk the myth, and accompanying references. All facts and references are Canadian and all are fairly recent. I encourage you to check out the example on Page 52 as well as our full collection of myths at https://bit.ly/2nZjZ73, and share them with your contacts and anyone you think would benefit from knowing the facts about digital health. It would be great to have more people join the party!

Thanks for your support for Digital Health Week over the years, and I hope you will take the time this year — from November 11-17 — to celebrate your individual achievements as well as our collective successes. We have a lot to celebrate!

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