Digital services helping to cut health costs

A new study has revealed that giving patients access to e-services has myriad benefits

Digital services helping to cut health costs

A new study has revealed that giving patients access to their personal health records (PHRs) online and digital health e-services is of benefit to both the patient and the health care system.

Conducted by SRDC (Social Research and Demonstration Corporation) for Canada Health Infoway, the study discovered that personal health records and other e-services provide $106 to $134 million a year in savings to the Canadian health care system.

Access to digital health e-services helps people avoid unnecessary trips to doctors. The study found that by avoiding time off work, and travel and other costs associated with a trip to the doctor's office, Canadians collectively reap approximately $119 to $150 million in value each year from utilizing digital health technology.

Digital health e-services give patients the ability to connect with their doctor electronically, avoiding unnecessary phone calls and fewer trips to the emergency department. Online access to health record information also saves time and helps avoid medical errors.

The table below lists the current value to the health system and to Canadians as a result of various e-services being available.



Adoption Rate)


Current Value

to Health

System Annually

Current Value

to Patients Annually



The ability to view

personal health

records online

$81-$96 million

$36- $39 million



The ability to send

secure emails or

texts to a health

care provider

$6-$15 million

$26-$42 million

Virtual Visits




with a doctor

$1.8-$2.3 million

$14-$18 million

e-Rx Renew


An electronic

request for a



$18-$20 million

$42-$50 million

Total Value


$106-$134 million

$119-$150 million

"Investments in personal health records and digital health e-services translate into significant value for Canadians and the health care system," said Michael Green, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway. "And these benefits will continue to accrue as digital health adoption accelerates."

Current data reflect relatively low availability and use rates of between 3 and 12% for PHRs and digital health e-services across Canada. Research shows that if adoption were to increase to 50%, the value would jump to between $720 and $746 million for the health care system and another $940 million for patients.