By increasing the accessibility, affordability, and quality of care, technology is transforming Canada’s healthcare industry.
It is a driving force behind recent improvements and, when you consider that 29% of Canadians report difficulty accessing healthcare services, it is no wonder that the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is working to support the scalability of virtual care.
Long wait times and the inability to make appointments are the most common challenges reported. This is leading to the rapid development of eHealth technologies, including Telemedicine, Online Pharmacy, and Digital Medical Information Systems.
Here are some ways that these technologies are shaping healthcare today:
Remember all that time you spent waiting around to see the doctor or for your prescription to be filled? This happens because traditional systems are preventing healthcare providers from meeting demand. Physicians in BC, for example, have a max of 65 patients that they can see daily. Once they reach their limit, they will not accept any more patients until the next day.
In a retail pharmacy, it can take pharmacists 45 minutes to fill a single prescription, having to count the correct number of pills, ensure dosages are correct, identify drug interactions, print labels, and consult patients.
At PocketPills, automation technology can package the medication of 10 people in 15 minutes, allowing our pharmacists to focus more on helping patients manage disease conditions. When you compare that to the amount of time it takes for one patient’s medication to be put into blister packs, the difference is incredible.
With technology, wait times are virtually eliminated. 50% of physician visits can now be done virtually, such as acute and chronic care and medical referrals. The more patients use Telemedicine for these needs, the fewer patients with critical needs will be turned away in office settings. On the other hand, online pharmacies can fill and deliver 100% of prescriptions to patients.
When it comes to medicine, quality is everything. Diagnostic mistakes, medication errors, and drug interactions can wreak havoc on patient health. Luckily, technology is looking to ensure that these things don’t happen.
Technology reduces human error. It allows healthcare providers to monitor a patient’s progress in real-time and intervene if anything goes wrong. Our pharmacists receive alerts when patients refills are due or if they have any questions regarding their medications. Pharmacy technology also improves medication accuracy.
Robotics at PocketPills take a picture of each med and check it against a database of pills to ensure 99.9% accuracy (pharmacists double check, as well). Along with medication being pre-sorted by dose, patients no longer have to worry if they are taking the right meds at the right time.
Since technology minimizes costs associated with manual labour and operating physical spaces, eHealth providers can pass their savings on to patients. Since less physical space is needed to operate, organizations can lower prices and offer free services, such as digital record keeping and medication delivery.
Patients also get the additional benefit of not having to make as many single trips to visit their healthcare providers. Not having to visit a pharmacy or doctor regularly can save Canadians up to 10 hours a month, potentially saving 100 hours every year.
Embrace the Future
Access to virtual care can provide peace of mind for both patients and healthcare providers. The opportunities are remarkable. It’s not just about healthcare – it’s about lifestyles, like smartphones and activities that make up a person’s day. Considering that mobile phone use increased by 60% over the last 3 years, it’s time to start letting your healthcare providers come to you.
Harj Samra is Co-Founder of Canadian tech-based pharmacy PocketPills.