It’s Canada’s Time to Reclaim our Place as a Leader in Health Care

As Canadians, we’re proud of our health system. Since Tommy Douglas introduced Medicare more than 50 years ago, health care in Canada has stood for equality and compassion. We are right to be proud. Our health system saves lives every day.

However, those of us working in this space know that all is not rosy. Canadians are increasingly concerned about the health system and, internationally, Canada has fallen behind. In fact, Canada ranked ninth of 11 countries in the 2017 Commonwealth Fund ranking of health care system performance.

For indicators measuring access to care, like being able to get same-day appointments with a physician or wait times in emergency departments, we were last. We have also fallen behind all peer countries and rank last when it comes to patients being able to access their health information. And patients and their families aren’t the only ones feeling the impact. A recent survey by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) reports that of the almost 3,000 physicians surveyed, more than one in four said they have experienced burnout, while 34 per cent reported symptoms of full-blown depression. Surely, we can do better.

Those of us working in health informatics, know that we can do better. We live in a digital age, where most of us have been shopping, banking and booking travel online for years. More recently, we’ve been using apps to find a convenient ride and buy concert, movie and sports tickets, among other things. We are so comfortable doing these things that it’s hard to remember a time when we couldn’t do them. And even if we did remember, most of us wouldn’t go back to the “old days” of standing in line instead of using the device of our choice to do things when and where we want to. But these conveniences and efficiencies that have changed most aspects of our lives, haven’t been fully incorporated into the health system. For all our sakes, especially those who are most vulnerable, this needs to change. The Canadian health care system needs to get better.

Over the years we’ve been working hard to improve the health of Canadians through technology and we’ve made tremendous progress. As of March 2018, Canada Health Infoway estimates that more than $26 billion in benefits (cost savings and efficiencies) have accrued to Canadians and our health system since 2007 as a result of our collective efforts. We’ve built a solid foundation for the next chapter and now it’s time to scroll or click to the next page!

This month we are launching ACCESS 2022. This is not a campaign as much as it is a movement. A movement to inspire our industry, and all Canadians, to work toward a new day in health care where patients, their families and their clinicians have access to the information and e-services they need to better manage their health.

ACCESS 2022 IS A MOVEMENT TO INSPIRE OUR INDUSTRY, AND ALL CANADIANS, TO WORK TOWARD A NEW DAY IN HEALTH CARE.

ACCESS 2022 starts with us. We are in a unique position to make a profound change through our collective focus and effort. I encourage you to visit our ACCESS2022.ca website, check out the resources that are available, including the social media channels, and join the movement! We are also looking for industry partners who believe in #accessforall and who will embrace the movement and help us spread the word.

It’s not a coincidence that this campaign is being launched during Digital Health Week (November 12-18). Now in its fifth year, Digital Health Week has always been a time for us, collectively, to celebrate our successes and to raise the level of awareness and discussion about the benefits of digital health. There are a number of activities planned to celebrate including Infoway’s Partnership Conference, our flagship event, which will be taking place in Montreal from November 13-14. We hope you can join us there, join in the celebration and help us launch ACCESS 2022!

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