Education and healthcare in the 21st century have transcended physical walls. Digital technologies are transforming the delivery of health education and services, the nature of the traditional physician-patient relationship, and the structure of the Canadian health care system. ‘Digital Health’ involves the use of technologies and services such as: electronic medical records (EMRs); e-consultations; mobile health apps, devices and wearable technologies; tele-operated surgical systems and remote robotics; electronic prescribing; patient-monitoring systems; and, tele-homecare. There is growing evidence that these digital technologies can support patient self-care behaviours, enable more timely access to patient information, improve patient safety, increase productivity and efficiency, and positively impact patient health outcomes. This is particularly valuable for patients and health care professionals in rural and remote locations who might not have direct access to certain specialized services.
This project will involve a community education forum to be held in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador. The purpose of this forum is to explore and discuss community perspectives surrounding the various uses of digital technologies for health services delivery in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, with a particular focus on aging populations. The event will connect multidisciplinary researchers, academics, and health care professionals to policy-makers, representatives from community-based nonacademic organizations, and the general public for an enhanced discussion around patient perspectives of digital health applications in rural communities. According to the 2017 Canadian Medical Association (CMA) Physician Workforce Survey, Newfoundland and Labrador significantly lags behind other provinces in Canada with regards to the adoption and use of key electronic tools, such as EMRs and other digital health technologies. This forum will generate a community-oriented discussion on the past and present uses of technology for enhancing healthcare delivery and raise community awareness around the possible opportunities and uses of Digital Health technologies in Newfoundland and Labrador.