Mark Goldberg

Fox Group Dispatch

Managing the silver tsunami

While digital health technologies hold the promise to empower us to be more and proactive in our care, a new study released today by TELUS finds that those who might benefit the most from innovative healthcare technologies are least likely to adopt them.

Among the findings of the Digital Life study:

  • Canadians in the baby boomer (age 52+) and greatest generation (age 71+) categories reported they were the most likely to access a healthcare provider (75 per cent). While 59 per cent in this demographic agreed that digital health tools would help them connect with their healthcare provider, this group ranked the least likely to use them (12 per cent);
  • Those 52+ years old in Ontario and the West are significantly more likely than those 52+ years old in Quebec to have shared their health data with their healthcare provider, used online or mobile resources to find reviews of doctors or healthcare services, and used online or mobile resources to search for specific health topics;
  • Canadians over the age of 52 were 10 per cent less likely than younger generations to agree that digital technology empowers them to take control of their health;
  • 80 per cent of healthcare providers surveyed reported using digital technology to communicate with other healthcare professionals. Six in 10 hold the belief that this integrated health team interaction improves patients’ overall wellness; and,
  • With 89 per cent of healthcare professionals surveyed agree that accessible, secure information-sharing platforms would improve patient outcomes.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information reports that two-thirds of Canadians over 65 have five or more different prescriptions, and one-quarter take 10 or more prescription drugs.

TELUS Health has announced a new product, Pharma Space, an online pharmacy service that provides reminders and automatic refills, with the objective of improved compliance with medication. Pharma Space provides patients with the flexibility to better manage these prescriptions as well as their online drug profile anytime, anywhere from a mobile phone, tablet or computer. The system allows patients access to information they need about their medications, including potential side effects. Pharma Space is offered through participating pharmacies.

We have recently dealt with aging family members having problems from drug interactions caused by prescriptions that weren’t properly coordinated between specialists. TELUS reports that 300,000 Canadians are already using Pharma Space. While that is an impressive start, it also means more than 99% of Canadians still aren’t accessing the service. That makes a significant (and necessary) growth opportunity for Pharma Care and other digital health applications.

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