Myths vs. Facts

Digital health is transforming the way Canadians access health care as more and more are able to view their personal health history online, connect with their care provider through e-visits and e-book medical appointments. It has also changed workflows for clinicians who are able to pull up information about their patients as needed and whose patients may now be able to also access their health information. This has created some uncertainty and concerns — not always based on the facts — about what digital health means for Canadians as well as clinicians. We set out to dispel some of these myths.

Myth: Digital health is just for health care providers.

Fact: 50% of Canadians now report they can access at least one health service online, such as viewing their health information, making an appointment with a physician and consulting with a health care provider.

Providing patients with timely access to their health information is an important part of patient engagement and empowerment, which are linked to improved chronic disease management. In fact, engaged patients use less urgent and after hour services.


Source: 2018-2019 Annual Report, Canada Health Infoway. 2019 Annual Tracking Survey, Canada Health Infoway. See also: http://bit.ly/2n4PRpZ and http://bit.ly/2MUORAK.

Myth: I won’t understand my lab results if I access them online because they are too complicated.

Fact: In a study, 76% of patients who first saw their lab results online were confident they understood the results.

The study also showed patients who view their results online are no more anxious than those who don’t. In fact, people with chronic conditions are less anxious when they get their results online. Timely access to lab test results is an important part of patient engagement and empowerment, which are directly linked to improved chronic disease management.


Source: Mák G, Smith Fowler H, Leaver C, Hagens S, Zelmer J, “The Effects of Web-Based Patient Access to Laboratory Results in British Columbia: A Patient Survey on Comprehension and Anxiety,” J Med Internet Res 2015;17(8):e191 DOI: 10.2196/jmir.4350

Myth: The quality of care offered in a virtual visit is not as good as the care in a face-to-face visit.

Fact: While in-person visits are essential in some cases, there are many scenarios in which virtual visits can provide the same standard of care. A BC study found 79% of patients who had a virtual visit said the quality of care was the same as in an in-person visit. 91% said the online visit helped them with the health issue for which they needed the appointment.


Source: Virtual Visits in British Columbia: 2015 Patients Survey and Physician Interview Study

Myth: Digital health is only for the young and tech savvy.

Fact: Canadians are very connected, including seniors. 90% of Canadian households have Internet access and 74% of Canadians over 55 years old own a smartphone or tablet.

Digital health also offers important opportunities for advancing care for seniors through programs such as telehomecare. Telehomecare can help seniors with chronic conditions improve their quality of life and reduce the number of ED visits and hospital stays they may have.


Source: Diffusion of Smart Devices for Health in Canada — Final Report, September 2017. 2018 Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) Factbook, http://bit.ly/2MZR1Pp. See also: http://bit.ly/2MZyDpX.

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