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Doctor Using Digital Tablet

Virtual Healthcare in Canada

The pandemic has led to a transformation in the way different industries function, and the healthcare sector is no exception. Gone are the days when you had to actually step inside a hospital or a clinic to get medical assistance — healthcare is now virtual and a lot more accessible. COVID has made access to healthcare difficult, and 70% of Canadians believe that virtual care is the future.

Environics Research conducted a survey to understand the preferences and attitudes of Canadians when it comes to healthcare and telemedicine. The results of this survey are pretty interesting. Let’s have a look at the key findings:

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Easy Accessibility

Almost every person in Canada has access to a family physician. Despite this, 46% of Canadians say that it takes them more than 4 days to see a healthcare professional for minor ailments. Likewise, 22% of them say it would take them over a week to actually secure an appointment with a doctor. While this situation doesn’t seem good, the emergence of virtual healthcare is slowly changing the scenario, making medical assistance a lot more accessible and easy.

Age-Based Preference

A popular doctor based in Toronto stated that virtual healthcare is more preferred and accessed by those who are young and healthy. Videoconferencing would be a tough choice for those who are older and more vulnerable. Moreover, this category would not be comfortable with using technology either.

Ailment-Specific Care

75% of Canadians prefer to head to a specialist to get their ailments treated rather than opting for a general practitioner. In their opinion, it helps them get ailment-specific care, which further helps in quicker diagnosis and faster recovery. The services of a specialist may not always be easily available, but with online medical care, you can now quickly reach out to the doctor of your choice and get your ailment treated.

Societal Preferences

Another aspect noted was that those in higher socio-economic groups mostly prefer connecting to a doctor over the phone. 66% of Canadians said they would prefer other alternatives such as virtual healthcare if it would be covered in their benefits plan. Irrespective of the age or economic class they belong to, 82% of Canadians stand united on this opinion - they would be more likely to use virtual healthcare if employers would provide access to the same.

In-Person Visits

Despite the increasing prominence of online healthcare, a small number of people still prefer in-person visits to their doctor. This accounts for 10% of the total Canadian population. During the pandemic, with restricted movement, 34% of people consulted their doctors over the phone. This number is still comparatively a lot lesser than the number of people whole-heartedly accepting virtual healthcare.

Post-Covid Scenario

The main question is – will virtual healthcare still be just as sought-after even after the Covid situation is resolved? Let’s have a look at the numbers – 58% of Canadians said that once the pandemic is under control, they would prefer to reach a doctor in person, as compared to a call, text, or video conference. 20% said they would still prefer a call, 14% would opt for video conference, and 8% inclined towards email and texts.

What’s in Store for the Future?

The numbers are strongly in favor of virtual healthcare, and we’re positive that this isn’t just another trend but a system that’s here to stay. With a couple of reforms in the benefits plans, healthcare can become a lot more accessible to people across all socio-economic strata. A pan-Canadian framework for virtual care will definitely boost virtual healthcare, improving and expanding it at the same time. With this, all Canadians – urban, rural, and indigenous communities can benefit from more choice and convenience when it comes to medical care.

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