hospital, doctor, nurse, health care

Canadian hospitals need to roll out more digital tools to serve the needs of a growing number of tech-savvy seniors that are demanding health information and services be made available online and through mobile devices, according to a recent survey.

As many as 60 per cent of Canadian seniors want “digital options” for managing their health services remotely,” according to a global survey of 9,015 adults including 1,000 individuals aged 65 and over conducted by management and technology consulting services firm Accenture.

The respondents from Canada, Brazil, Australia, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the United States, were asked about their perceptions on using digital tools to manage their own healthcare.

While seniors in Canada want access to healthcare technologies such as electronic reminders (58 per cent) and online appointment scheduling (65 per cent), Accenture found that only 10 per cent of healthcare providers offer such tools.

Some 75 per cent of seniors indicated that access to health data is important but only 14 per cent have access to their health records.

“That this means is that health systems need to expand their digital options if they want to attract older patients and help them track and manage their care outside their doctor’s office,” said Debra Sandomirsky, managing director of Accenture’s health business in Canada.

Just as more older Canadian are relying on the Internet to do their banking, communications, shopping and entertainment, she said, many seniors now expect to be able to “virtually manage” some aspects of their healthcare.

Increasing broadband access and reliability is one of the drivers of the growing mobile adoption. However some surveys indicate that mobile adoption is Canadian hospitals is lagging behind other industries.

More than half of seniors (55 per cent) said it is important to be able to request prescription refills electronically, but only 14 can currently do so.

As more seniors become digitally engage, healthcare systems need to “consider the role the Internet can play” in delivering information and services to patients, said Sandomirsky.

About 45 per cent of seniors want to be able to email healthcare providers by only seven per cent said they healthcare providers have that capability.