The Potential Socio-Economic Impact of Telemedicine in Canada

Marco Hafner, Erez Yerushalmi, Elaine Dufresne, Evangelos Gkousis

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


    Compared to traditional in-person healthcare delivery, telemedicine is characterized as the ability to remotely access healthcare services using information and communication technologies (ICT). The COVID-19 pandemic has acted globally as a force of rapid digital transformation across many business sectors including how people access healthcare. Increasingly, many primary and special healthcare consultations are moving towards remote consultations and services. AIM: The aim of the report is to quantify the potential social-economic benefits of a permanent increase of teleconsultations in Canada. We conduct a comprehensive literature review on the types of telemedicine available and the barriers to adoption. We then focus on three issues: (i) time saved, (ii) fewer emergency room visits and missed appointments, and (iii) greater access to physicians. METHODS and FINDINGS: First, we develop an economy-wide computable general equilibrium (CGE) model calibrated to the Canadian economy. The model integrates endogenous labour-leisure substitution and simulates an increase of teleconsultations from the current 4% in Canada, to a potential of 10% to 50%. Because teleconsultation saves time, it raises the potential for work and leisure, which would raise welfare by around CAD 5 billion a year. Next, a partial equilibrium approach quantifies improvements in the Canadian health system. A rise in teleconsultations is expected to lower emergency room visits for minor issues and missed appointments. This could save around CAD 150 million a year. Finally, using a life-satisfaction valuation approach, teleconsultations benefits Canadians in communities where medical care is harder to access. This improves their well-being by up to CAD 600 million a year.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherRAND Corporation
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 20 Dec 2021


    • Canada
    • Computable General Equilibrium (CGE)
    • Econometric Models
    • Health Economics
    • Public Health
    • Telemedicine
    • Teleconsultations


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