The Health Council of Canada has released “How Engaged are Canadians in their Primary Care?” an in-depth look at patient engagement through the lens of the 2010 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey.
The report analyzes patient engagement in Canada and suggests that generally, more engaged patients view themselves as healthier and better utilize the health services and resources available in the system. Engaged patients are more likely to make active efforts to participate in disease prevention, screening and health promotion activities. However, the report also finds that only 48 per cent of Canadians feel involved and are actively participating in their own health care.
Among the 10 other countries that participated in the Commonwealth Fund Survey, Canada falls exactly in the middle percentage range as it pertains to patient engagement. New Zealand, Australia and Switzerland have the most engaged patients at 68, 63 and 59 per cent respectively. These same countries have also in the past Commonwealth Survey (2010) earned high ratings from citizens on access, affordability, timeliness and coordination of care.
The biggest identified barrier to patient engagement is time; more is needed for both doctors and patients. Increasing patient expectations are placing greater demands on doctors’ time; not having enough time with their doctor keeps many Canadians from feeling engaged in their care; feeling rushed during appointments – all of these are obstacles to engagement. In short, patients want more time with their doctors and physicians need more time to spend with their patients.
Alternatively, the report found that Canadians are more likely to feel engaged if they believe it is easy for them to access care. For example, of the Canadians who believed it was easy to get answers from their doctor’s offices via telephone, 71 per cent considered themselves engaged in their care. As well, patients were almost twice as likely to be engaged if someone followed up to give them their test results.
For more information go to www.healthcouncilcanada.ca.