In brief

In brief

  • We surveyed 1,863 citizens to understand how they perceive healthcare and how it has changed during the pandemic, & how they interact with the system.
  • The pandemic has impacted people’s trust in the Canadian healthcare system and has highlighted key gaps in its current model.
  • Canadians are generally satisfied with the healthcare system but opportunities to improve care exist by leveraging new players and technology.
  • Our findings highlight key principles to create more efficient and personalized care experiences for citizens.


A relentless pursuit to transform healthcare

Healthcare remains a top priority for the Canadian government, and we see public and private entities making significant investments to improve the healthcare system in every way, from initial research to services delivered to patients1.

Compared to similar developed countries, Canada’s healthcare system performs poorly and research indicates that it is getting worse, especially in areas like areas 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.

Perception of the current Canadian healthcare system

Canadians are generally satisfied with public health services, especially with their access to a provider. However, they are unsatisfied with the current access to health and wellness coaching (e.g. diet programs, mental health programs, addiction clinics, etc.) and financial support (e.g. information on publicly funded health services, insurance coverage, special funding programs for prescription, etc.).

Canadians are not willing to pay for healthcare, but involvement of new players is accepted if it means improved services

Most Canadians are not willing to pay for healthcare over and above what is provided by the government, unless absolutely necessary. They see the perceived price tag associated with improvements coming from commercial solutions or partnerships with private players as too steep. 63% of Canadians won’t pay for healthcare because they consider it should be free since provided by the government.

More than half of respondents make use of private treatments (e.g. physiotherapy, nutritionist, naturopath, private primary care services, etc.) and usage increases with income and the severity of health condition.

Canadians also see value in engaging with private players to improve healthcare as more than half of our respondents are comfortable with the private sector playing a bigger role, if it result in an improvement of services without having to pay out of pocket for it.

  • 58% of Canadians are comfortable with the private sector playing a bigger role in Canada’s healthcare system

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 local and national government entities (-9%) and insurance companies (-9%).

There is an erosion of trust in government’s ability to support well-being in any circumstance. Trust in both local and national Canadian governments were damaged during the pandemic, as:

  • 1 in 4 respondents have less trust in their government to manage their long-term wellbeing since the onset of COVID-19
  • 64% of respondents are most comfortable receiving care from a pharmacy

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.

The pandemic has forced new ways of delivering care and Canadians would like some of these new services to remain.

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.

80% of Canadians would like to see those 3 services remain after the pandemic:

Online and booking scheduling

Health services in the local pharmacy

Telehealth services

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1 out of 4 Canadians still find it difficult to navigate the healthcare system.

We identified 4 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 respondents trust automated scheduling and reminders from healthcare apps

Reduce hurdles

In-person health visits are still favoured by patients, but Canadians are getting more comfortable with receiving care virtually.

  • 65% of respondents are comfortable with virtual appointments and telehealth

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To address the challenges, Canadians will have to be all in and collaborate with each others.

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

Leverage private sector’s expertise through partnerships and focus on providers’ administrative burden and access.

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 a care experience that is efficient and per

Focus improvements on personalization, patient-provider engagement, investment in digital health tools, and system incumbrance.

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