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Meet the engaged patients

Doctor and patient talking with each other

How involved are you in making decisions and taking action to improve your health and wellness? How confident do you feel navigating the health system?

With recent developments in digital health across Canada, more and more Canadians are taking their healthcare into their own hands, becoming engaged to improve their health outcomes.

But who are these individuals, and how do they incorporate digital tools into their healthcare journeys?

In this two-part blog series, we’ll explore the intersections between engaging patients in their healthcare and emerging digital health services.

Pan-Canadian survey results

To start, we analyzed responses from Canada Health Infoway’s 2018 and 2019 surveys of Canadians.

Patient engagement:

Engaged patient status was determined using the answers to two questions:

  1. How involved are you in managing your health in partnership with your healthcare providers?
  2. How would you rate your confidence to participate with your healthcare providers to discuss and make decisions together that affect your health?

We defined engaged patients as individuals who were both confident and involved. Based on available research evidence, we believe that neither confidence nor involvement alone makes an engaged patient. The combination of the two is crucial for meaningful interactions that allow for the patient’s active participation in the treatment and management of their own health outcomes.

In the 2019 survey, we found that 45 per cent of the respondents were engaged, a slight increase from 42 per cent in 2018.

We also found significant associations between engaged patient status and the use of digital health services, specifically electronic personal health records and electronic prescription renewals.

In both years, our analyses demonstrate that patients with access to their personal health information report feeling more confident and involved in managing their healthcare. The same holds true for e-Rx (electronic prescription) renewal requests.

Demographic patterns

From our data, we can determine some additional demographic patterns.

A greater percentage of engaged patients were:

  • 55+ years of age
  • Female
  • Diagnosed with a chronic health condition

Benefits to engagement

Mental health:

There are also relations between engaged patient status and potential mental health benefits. Although they are more likely to have a chronic disease, engaged patients are also more likely to positively self-rate their mental health. Compared to non-engaged patients, they use emergency and walk-in health services less.

Informed decision making:

Active involvement of individuals in their health care is a crucial component of person-centred care. By building empowered partnerships between patients and care providers, engagement helps patients make more informed decisions about their care and recognizes their vital role on the health care team.

Nationally, the percentage of Canadians who are engaged is growing and so are the benefits(1).

Share your vision and stay informed! The future of healthcare starts with you.

Work Cited:

  1. Valuing citizen access to digital health services: Applied value-based outcomes in the Canadian context and tools for modernizing health systems, Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), 2019;21(6)

Additional Resources:

  1. Connecting Patients for Better Health: 2018
  2. Better Health Together Workshop: The Citizens’ Vision for Better Health through Digital Solutions
  3. What Does it Mean to be an Engaged Patient?
  4. The Importance of Being an Engaged Patient

Ellie Yu is a performance analytics analyst, Virginie Jamet is an information services manager in performance analytics, and Katie Bryski is an engagement and marketing coordinator.

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