Health & Wellness

Canadians Expect Technology to Improve Health-Care Access

Artificial intelligence may make shorter wait times possible


By Jennifer Hughes


The time a patient can spend waiting to see a doctor is one of the biggest problems with health care in Canada. In fact, Ontario hospitals set a new record this past summer, when wait times in emergency rooms rose to an average of 16.3 hours in June.

According to a recent Ipsos survey, Canadians expect that more technology will mean fewer problems in health-care system. Conducted by on behalf of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the survey polled just over 2,000 people and found that many believe that technology will help reduce wait times and give patients better access to their physicians. Three-quarters (76%) of those polled believe that technology will allow health care providers to be more efficient, 70% believe that it will relieve doctors of administrative burdens, and 69% believe that it will create better health outcomes.

Many Canadians believe that it’s only a matter of time before more technology is introduced—six in ten expect that artificial intelligence and robots will be available within the next 10 years to provide health-care services and two-thirds think this will have a positive effect on their lives.

Some would even be okay with trusting private companies, such as Apple or Google, with their data if it meant having access to patient portals online. However, those 55 or older are less likely to think this is a good idea (60%) than are those aged 18 to 34 (70%) and 35 to 54 (67%).

“In my experience, physicians … and patients are ready for this. It’s just a question of being able to scale these technologies and integrate them appropriately,” president of the New Brunswick Medical Society and ER doctor, Dr. Serge Melanson, told CMA.

Canadians did, however, express concerns: 87% worry about who will have access to their data, 85% are concerned about the possibility of health-care technology being hacked, and 82% fret that the data could be used against them for by insurance companies or potential employers.

Photo: iStock/metamorworks.