TORONTO, June 4 – Nearly two thirds of Canadians would consider using virtual health (vHealth) options in their own care or for someone they care for, according to PwC’s report: Making Care Mobile: Shifting perspectives on the virtualization of health care. The top motivators behind adopting vHealth and mobile health (mHealth) include: convenient access to a physician, ability to obtain information, and greater control over one’s health.
The report defines vHealth as health care professionals collaborating with their colleagues and with patients to deliver care remotely using technologies like video conferencing and digital imaging. mHealth is the use of wireless tools to deliver and access virtual care and health information using devices such as a smartphone, tablet or wireless medical monitor.
“Canadians are ready for the digitization of their care and the next wave of innovation for service delivery will need to put the patient at the centre of the solution,” says Will Falk, Manager Partner, Healthcare, PwC. “This means providing faster, more convenient access to care in the ways in which Canadians want it.”
Is there an app for that?
More than a third of Canadians believe that mobile health apps will make health care more convenient in the next three years. “There are countless mobile phone applications helping people manage their everyday life – ranging from personal finances to planning social activities. Canadians have clearly indicated their interest in accessing health services and their health information in a similar way.” says Mark Casselman, director of mHealth, PwC.
Survey participants indicated clearly that they value the convenience associated with improved access via virtualized service offerings. Nearly 80% of respondents said they would be comfortable using a virtual monitoring service for a chronic condition. Meanwhile, over two-thirds of Canadians suggested they would be comfortable having a post-surgical follow-up visit conducted via video conference.
“Obtaining the information is one thing, but understanding it is another,” says Casselman. “Citizens, patients, and representatives in the medical community should be involved in the development of digital health services from the beginning to ensure the content is reliable, is easy to comprehend, and improves patient engagement and communication with the care team.”
Controlling your health at home
Key findings from the report include:
Falk says, “While it may never fully replace other service delivery channels, e-mailing is so commonly used, Canadians believe it should at least be an option.” The report highlights two main factors that would make users more comfortable with email adoption: confidence in the security of the system and tracked records of e-mail exchanges. “There needs to be a balance between securing access and modernization with quality and privacy. Only then will the health care sector begin to focus on full mobility and virtual integration and network improvements,” concludes Falk.
The research for Making Care Mobile: Shifting perspectives on the virtualization of health care report was conducted through a ‘Choicebook’, which took respondents through an interactive experience. Over a three week period, nearly 2,500 Canadians participated to address the central question posed in this project - What does the future of health care delivery look like?
Participants learned about vHealth and mHealth, explored important questions related to the issues and thought through what services they would be interested in after being presented with some of the advantages, disadvantages and trade-off involves. For the purposes of this report, the findings focus on the qualitative and quantitative results stemming from the Choicebook.
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