This member policy proposal, submitted by Dr. Kendall Ho of British Columbia to the CMA in September 2018, proposes CMA policy focused on raising digital health literacy to support health system transformation in Canada and globally.

Background

Member proposals are a year-round intake and consultation process that are intended to provide opportunities for members to contribute to CMA policy development. Member proposals will address policy issues that matter to the medical profession and patients and will be evaluated on the basis of their relevancy, fit and focus with the CMA’s mandate.

This proposal was submitted to the CMA’s Member Policy Proposals Review Group. Following assessment by the review group, it was approved by the CMA board for consultation to obtain feedback for further consideration and development. Stakeholders were invited to share their feedback on the draft policy between Jan. 14 and Mar. 6, 2019.

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Scope

Digital health — the use of digital technologies to deliver health services and capture data for population health — brings fresh solutions to our health system challenges, which include gaps in access, quality and cost-effectiveness. The general public is increasingly interested in digital health technologies such as health apps, wearables and patient portals. The general public and health professionals need digital health literacy — the awareness of and knowledge for appropriate use of digital health solutions — to ensure they are not overwhelmed or misguided as they make choices about using the rapidly increasing solutions in the digital health marketplace.

This proposed policy calls for adoption of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) recent resolution on digital health, which calls for member states to implement digital health strategies. Five strategies are proposed in this proposal to support health professionals and patients in digital health uptake and to partner with our government and private sectors to transform our health system.

Feedback

Thank you for your feedback on the proposal. The consultation period is now closed. Please visit the community engagement platform for updates on the status of the policy in the coming weeks.

  • I really like the comment that   makes about this proposal and I agree with her.

  • I agree with that proposal as long as the spirit of it is towards better safety for the information and for the patients. I have elaborated more on this in my feedback form. Digital Health Litteracy is definitely a very important issue.

  • Digital technology should be patient centric. And the CMA should commit to funding useful technology to importance digital advances in family medicine. These are a group of physicians who are on their own as compared to many others who are supported by provincial bodies with added resources. 

  • I am curious about the 'future' context of this policy statement. Digital health is here now - and has been here for some time. Patients have been patiently (impatiently) waiting for better access and safer access to their health information and communication with their health care providers. I would like the tone of this policy to be more 'aggressive' that catch up needs to occur. 

    Further the 'digital' health examples in this policy are wanting. For example, there is no mention of using digital tools toward more effective communication for patients/families, e.g. virtual health (e-referral, e-consult, e-visits), improved communication (getting rid of fax, encouraging email/text). 
    I would like to see a more patient partnered vision for digital health. These are tools that can/should serve everyone in healthcare doctors, administrators (performance and policy), policymakers (data/information), patients (selfcare, patient safety, communication) etc. 
    There is an opportunity to emphasize the CMA position re: portability, transferability, access etc. of health information in this policy (both nationally and provincially) 

    We need a stronger voice and advocacy re: health literacy and digital health in Canada. I think this policy proposal could be more robust and include more elements toward a strong vision for digital health and health literacy. 

  • I believe that the CMA is well suited to manage the digital technology that physicians need in Canada.  The digital technology that serves patients should be controlled and managed only by physicians and not third parties that are not subject to the CPSO or other physician health regulatory bodies across the country.