With the number of seniors officially surpassing the number of children in Canada according to the 2016 census, the healthcare industry is bracing itself for what’s being dubbed as the “silver tsunami.”
And while digital health technologies can help alleviate this load and provide more proactive, engaged care, a new study from Telus Health has found that those who would most benefit from healthcare innovation are least likely to adopt it.
Telus’ My Digital Live survey found that despite 59 per cent of baby boomers and older generations (age 52 and up) believing digital health tools would help them better connect with their healthcare provider, only 12 per cent of this group would actually use such tools.
Canadians over the age of 52 were 10 per cent less likely than their younger cohorts to agree that digital technology empowers them and gives them more control over their health.
“Digital life is not just for millennials and GenX anymore – technology helps every generation stay connected for reasons related to health, safety and general companionship,” Paul Lepage, president of Telus Health, says in a July 25 press release. “All Canadians have a role to play when it comes to managing and sharing health information for ourselves, our partners or as caregivers to children and aging relatives. Today, it’s increasingly important that all Canadians – especially older generations – speak to their doctors about how to incorporate technology into their care and improve their health outcomes.”
In particular, the survey found that ageing residents of Ontario and the Western provinces are significantly more likely than those in Quebec and Atlantic Canada to support digital technologies in healthcare, and are more likely to have already used digital tools or services to improve their healthcare experience.
And interestingly, men are more likely (65 per cent) to believe digital technologies play an important role in managing health than women (58 per cent).
“The silver tsunami we’re seeing in Canada tells us that not only is it increasingly important to educate Canadians about the impact technology can have on health outcomes but also to ensure we are maximizing the opportunity to put these digital health tools in place so all patients and their care providers can stay better connected,” says Dr. Susan Lea-Makenny, director and senior medical advisor at INLIV Clinic, a complete healthcare management service in Calgary. “As a doctor and former nurse, I have seen first-hand how digital solutions can empower older Canadians to take control of their own health by gaining valuable and timely information and improve their overall care.”
Industry speaks out
But what do the healthcare providers in Canada think? According to the My Digital Life survey, 89 per cent of healthcare professionals believe that digital technologies would improve patient outcomes, and 80 per cent of them reported already using such technology to communicate with other healthcare professionals – interactions that many believe is the first step in improving patient wellness.
You can watch an animated video on more of the findings below.