Dr. Ed Brown asked how many people in the audience were able to e-mail their family doctor? A small handful in the Mount Sinai hospital auditorium raised their hand. When asked who would like the ability to e-mail their doctor, everyone in the room raised their hands.
The situation is likely to change much sooner than we think. The question is, are health care providers ready, will the public participate, and will quality be more than an “acceptable second best?”
Brown, CEO of the non-profit Ontario Telemedicine Network, says Ontario is already one of the most advanced telemedicine environments in the world. Last year there were 204,058 telemedicine “events” in the province – a staggering 52 per cent growth over the previous year. There are slightly over a thousand regular users – this in a doctor population of 25,000.
Brown and Will Falk, a health care “leader” with PwC Canada, spoke at Longwood’s Breakfast With The Chiefs this morning on the growing virtualization of health care.
By conducting health care consultations virtually, Brown says that Ontarians have been spared travelling the equivalent of 275 trips to the moon and back. In Northern Ontario it has saved 108 million miles of travel. Given northern travel grants are available for citizens to access health care mostly in the south, that represents about $45 million in savings had all those trips actually taken place (likely not all would have).