Who are we in the health system? Are we patients? Consumers? Citizens, clients, Canadians? No matter what you call us – we are people. Unique individuals with unique interests and health care needs; and it is important that we are at the table when decisions about our care are being made.
This is true no matter “who you are” in the system and no matter what particular care you may require or may not require yet. As Valerie Billingham said in her session address at the 1998 Salzburg Global Seminar, Through the Patient’s Eyes, “nothing about me without me.”
We know that Canadians want to be engaged in their care. They want to be seen and treated as active members of the health care team. Canada Health Infoway’s (Infoway) annual survey results continue to show that Canadians who have access to digital health tools feel more informed about their care; feel more engaged in their care and feel more confident, not only about the care they are receiving but about their ability to manage their health conditions too. Providers also recognize the value of giving patients electronic access, noting an increase in patients’ level of engagement and sense of empowerment regarding their own health.
There is an increasing range of digital health solutions in use across the country today, and while we continue to lag behind some of our international counterparts, it is exciting to see that the use of these tools has doubled in the past two years alone.  Canadians report that they are able to connect with their health care team through virtual visits, by requesting prescription renewals online, by self-booking appointments, and can access and share their personal health information electronically.
As we continue to explore the future of our health system, we know the potential to improve the patient experience and health outcomes are significant. The need to do this is paramount and should be guided by the peoples’ voices. WE need to be involved in designing, implementing, and evaluating this change. OUR voices need to be heard. As described by the European Patients’ Forum, “empowered patients are part of the healthcare system. They make informed choices, have better relationships with their healthcare providers, are committed to adhering to treatment, take responsibility for their care and seek preventative measures to better manage their health.”
At this year’s e-Health Conference, Infoway will be bringing ‘regular people’ to the event through paid scholarships and to participate in a panel presentation, “Hearing from Patients on What They Think of Digital Health,” which will take place on Tuesday, June 5 at 10:30 a.m. (Track: Patient Engagement Through Digital Health).
Throughout the conference there is a strong focus on this important topic:
- Sunday Symposium (Sunday, June 4, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.)
- Advancing Frameworks for Patient Engagement (Monday, June 5, 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.)
- Engaging Patients through Digital Health (Wednesday, June 7, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.)
- And more!
Plan to attend some of these promising sessions to learn how your colleagues in the industry are working together to include people in the future of digital health.
I invite you to also take some time to chat with our patient scholars and panelists during your time at the Conference. Their stories and personal journeys are impactful and their perspectives, enlightening.
I look forward to continuing this discussion with you. Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @Cassie482. See you at e-Health 2017!
 Valerie Billingham. Through the Patient’s Eyes, Salzburg Seminar Session 356, 1998. Cited in N Engl J Med 366;9 nejm.org, March 1, 2012
 Canada Health Infoway. Connecting Patients for Better Health: 2016. Available at: https://www.infoway-inforoute.ca/en/component/edocman/resources/3152-connecting-patients-for-better-health-2016
 SRDC. Impacts of direct patient access to laboratory results – Final Report. August, 2015. Available at: https://www.infoway-inforoute.ca/en/component/edocman/2775-impacts-of-direct-patient-access-to-laboratory-results-final-report/download
 The Commonwealth Fund. Commonwealth Fund International Survey of Primary Care Physicians in 10 Nations. December 7, 2015. Available at: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/interactives-and-data/surveys/international-health-policy-surveys/2015/2015-international-survey
 Canada Health Infoway. Connecting Patients for Better Health: 2016.