Healthcare remains a top priority for the Canadian government, and we see public and industry entities making significant investments to improve the healthcare system in every way, from initial research to services delivered to patients1.
Canada’s healthcare system is lagging compared to similar developed countries, especially in areas like equity, care outcomes, access, and administrative efficiency, while care process is performing better overall2.
With this in mind, we seek to understand Canadians’ perception of the most critical and important aspects of healthcare.
Canadians are generally satisfied with the healthcare system, but opportunities exist to improve access and navigation
Canadians are generally satisfied with the public healthcare system and access to various health services. However, our survey found that one in four (26%) Canadians still find it difficult to navigate the healthcare system, whether it’s to identify an adequate entry point into the system, find the right medical facility/treatment or where to go for a specific concern, find available services in the community, etc.
1 OUT OF 4
Canadians still find it difficult to navigate the healthcare system
Canadians are not willing to pay for traditional healthcare, but involvement of new players is accepted if it means improved services
Most Canadians would not pay for healthcare services typically provided by the government, unless absolutely necessary – they feel those services should be free as they already pay for them through taxes and insurance.
However, more than half of respondents use treatments or services that are not covered by the Canadian public health system (e.g. physiotherapy, nutritionist, naturopath, private primary care services, etc.) and usage increase with citizens income and the severity of their health condition.
Canadians also see value in engaging with private health industry players to improve healthcare as more than half of our respondents are comfortable with the private sector playing a bigger role, if it results in an improvement of services without having to pay out of pocket for it.
of Canadians are comfortable or neutral with the private sector playing a bigger role in Canada’s healthcare system
of Canadians wouldn’t pay for healthcare services typically provided by the government, they consider those should be free
COVID-19 shifted the levels of trust and highlighted important new ways of delivering care
The pandemic caused a major shift in citizens’ trust in external entities to manage their health. Trust in healthcare providers (+13%) and local retail companies (+5%) has increased since the onset of the pandemic, as opposed to government entities (-9%) and insurance companies (-9%).
Given that trust in providers is the highest and that caregivers are suffering burnout in the wake of the pandemic, other ecosystem players like local pharmacies might have an opportunity to play a more significant role and, at the same time, contribute to reduce the pressure on burnt out providers.
1 in 4
respondents have less trust in their government to manage their long-term wellbeing since the onset of COVID-19
of respondents are most comfortable receiving care from a pharmacy
The pandemic has forced new ways of delivering care and Canadians would like some of these new services to remain
Our survey found that 8 out of 10 Canadians would like to see three new services remain after the pandemic: (1) online booking and scheduling, (2) health services in the pharmacy, and (3) telehealth services. Canada’s healthcare system had to quickly adapt, and it seems like citizens enjoyed some of this innovation. Potential new market entrants should be readying themselves as areas of improvement, and thus opportunities, are becoming clearer.
Top 3 Services of Canadians
The pandemic also highlighted important gaps in the current model of Canadian healthcare, including reluctance from both providers and patients to transition to virtual care, a shortage of digital tools, and a reliance on dated processes and systems that aren’t efficient or easy to use.
We identified four guiding principles to build efficient and personalized care experiences
By following four key guiding principles, public health entities and other healthcare stakeholders can, individually and collaboratively, create the future healthcare system that Canadians need.
Focus on greater care personalization
Canadians are willing to share their data, but only in return for real value such as personalized care and services.
75% of respondents would share their personal health information, especially if it results in better care for them—such as targeted advice on medication and treatment based on their personal genetics
Increase patient-provider engagement
Current engagement between patients and providers are mainly re-active.
Only 15% of the respondents’ care providers adopt a more proactive approach and are invested in the respondents’ health (either taking interest beyond immediate needs or helping to plan and manage health)
Refine investment in digital health tools
Respondents don’t trust all digital tools equally. There is more trust in administrative (non-diagnosis) tools, compared to technology tools doing the diagnosis.
83% of Canadians trust appointment scheduling and reminders from healthcare apps
Reduce access hurdles
In-person health visits are still favoured by patients, but Canadians are getting more comfortable with receiving care virtually.
78% of respondents who experienced virtual care or telehealth felt comfortable or neutral about their experience
"There are collaboration opportunities to get more value from our investments. We all aim for one integrated health system across the country, and for better outcomes at a lower total cost."
While the Canadian healthcare landscape saw drastic change during the pandemic, there are ample opportunities for further improvements. Healthcare providers, commercial players and citizens would benefit by collaborating to address the current system burdens and should consider technology as an ally and key success factor to overcome long overdue priority challenges. Next steps should include:
Improve system access across the patient journey
Leverage commercial sector’s expertise through partnerships and focus on providers’ administrative burden, access and navigation.
Increase trust in all health entities
Leverage nontraditional but highly trusted health entities as well as public-private partnerships to reduce the pressure on front line providers.
Design an efficient & personalized experience
Focus improvements on personalization, patient-provider engagement, investment in digital health tools, and system frictions.
About this research
Accenture conducted a survey with a representative sample of 1,863 Canadians on their perception and experience with Canada’s healthcare system. Confidential and anonymous answers were collected by Dynata in May 2021. In addition to their responses, Accenture also conducted expert interviews with 10 senior executives of Canadian public and private healthcare organizations, through our partner Atheneum from June to July 2021. Results for the Canadian sample are statistically significant with a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of +/- 2.3 percent.