Réseau québécois de la télésanté

Digital Health in Québec : A strong voice for patients

November 23, 2021
By Mélanie Caron, MSSS
Doctor and patient in discussion in an examination room
The patient is a central partner of the care team

The Réseau québécois de la télésanté (RQT) team is proud to highlight the creation of a new partnership with the Centre of Excellence for Partnership with Patients and the Public (CEPPP). With the support of the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ) and the Institut de la pertinence des actes médicaux (IPAM), the CEPPP will receive funding to deploy resources for the next two years to help develop virtual tools and new services for Quebec patients. The pandemic has led to a significant increase in virtual health activities as well as the use of digital tools to access services. The Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) is now looking beyond the pandemic by focusing its vision on the long-term continuation of its major national digital health projects. In this respect, it seems essential to take into account the perspective and knowledge of patients and the public in order to better equip them to face the challenges posed by these new ways of offering and receiving health services.

In the context where the health network is facing economic, social, demographic and epidemiological challenges, digital health and patient partnership are becoming two important levers for the performance and sustainability of services. Although digital health is an increasingly common practice in Quebec, the approach is still relatively uncommon, which limits its potential benefits. 

The collaboration of the CEPPP, the FMSQ and the MSSS makes it possible to concretely combine digital health and the partnership with the patient and the public. This is another step in a broader citizen health partnership strategy.  This partnership will facilitate the therapeutic relationship between the patient and his or her healthcare professionals while ensuring that modern digital tools are integrated in an efficient and secure manner. The implementation of the patient partnership approach will also allow for better preparation of patients and will have an impact on the quality and effectiveness of interventions. In addition, this evolution of practices suggests significant gains in terms of access to specialized medical services for citizens. Finally, the partnership also aims to better respond to the more specific needs of patients in vulnerable situations, living with disabilities or from First Nations and cultural communities. 

While health professionals are the experts on the illness, patients are the experts on living with the illness. The importance of the experiential knowledge of the patient and his or her relatives is therefore no longer in question. This expertise is therefore complementary to that of other health and social services actors, allowing all these parties to form a full-fledged team. In this regard, it should be noted that the Institut d’excellence en santé et services sociaux (INESSS) will also be called upon to support the process.

The MSSS and all the players involved in the various telehealth projects are proud to be able to give this legitimate place to the voice of patients and the public. There is no doubt that current and future virtual health care and services will benefit greatly from this contribution, both in terms of access and quality of digital health services to citizens.

If you are interested in learning more about the approach and focus of the Patient and Public Partnership, visit CEPPP web site.