2011 Survey of Health Care Consumers in Canada
Global survey of health care consumers
Health consumerism must be recognized as a major driver of health system transformation. This is critical as individuals have the ability to transform the delivery of health care across the country through evolving expectations, willingness to engage in their own health management through self-care and remote monitoring, and a realization of the important connection between economic stabilization and the “health” of our health system.
Finding strategies to provide customized health solutions to meet consumer needs within an equitable funding and policy framework will be one of the greatest challenges in evolving the health system; more so in this time of fiscal constraint. Of course, having health consumers actively involved and understanding the health system, maintaining their own self-care, and actively engaging in dialogue about the evolution of the health system is critical for new models to evolve that meet Canadians needs and expectations.
Among survey key findings:
- Canadian consumers report a low understanding of the health system, evaluating the system on their experiences vs. a studied view; however 4 in 10 believe it compares well globally, while one-third believe that it is wasteful.
- Consumers in Canada believe that the system should provide better service to its constituents.
- The economic downturn has altered Canadians' use of the system: half are now more cautious about spending on health care, and 6 in 10 feel insecure about their ability to handle future health care costs.
- 1 in 7 Canadian consumers has responsibility for the care of family members or friends, an increase from 2009, suggesting this continues to be a significant element of the Canadian consumer health care experience.
- Although the majority of Canadians report they are in good physical and emotional health, the rate of chronic disease is increasing in the population and has a major impact on consumers and the health system.
- Use of preventive services is widespread, with consumers interested and making use of both publicly provided and privately paid options; in particular, 25-44 year olds are highly interested in new public tax models that would reward healthy living.
- To maintain or achieve a better level of health, one in four says they need coaching or professional assistance.
- The Internet is an important source of information for many consumers, but its use for health care information lags similar consumer use for banking, shopping, and travel.
- Canadian consumers trust treatment and safety information from academic health sciences centres and medical associations. Least-trusted sources are pharmaceutical, biotech or medical device/product manufacturers, and health insurance companies/health plans.
- Concern about privacy and security of personal information is high among 30 percent of consumers, a decline from concerns in 2009.
- Use of social media for health care purposes is low among the general population, however is higher among high users of the health system.
- Trust in medical devices to monitor health is high; however with the use of general mobile technologies to monitor health, younger Canadians are interested while interest among older Canadians is low.
The 2011 Survey of Health Care Consumers in Canada offers health care industry leaders and policy makers a timely look at how health care consumerism is evolving, as well as a comprehensive perspective on how Canadians approach their health, health care, and health insurance.