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Understanding the importance of self-care during Digital Health Week and beyond
Created on 3/15/2021 4:09:05 PM

Written by Michael Graydon, CEO of Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada
Published on November 24, 2020

Last week marked Digital Health Week, when we celebrate innovations in digital health tools that improve healthcare access and delivery across Canada. Digital doctor visits might be the best known tech innovation in health, but as the voice for Canada’s consumer health industry, we at FHCP also want to celebrate how digital innovations can help Canadians practice self-care and take better care of themselves and their families. 

You might be thinking self-care means bubble baths and mud masks, but self-care is actually a key component of Canada’s healthcare landscape. After all, people are our greatest healthcare resource. Unfortunately, they are often underestimated and under-valued, compared to investments in our publicly-funded healthcare system.

Self-care empowers people to take better care of themselves and encompasses everything from making healthy lifestyle choices to treating minor health ailments and managing — or better yet preventing — chronic diseases. 

Self-care, like digital health, helps reduce costs and increase healthcare quality, access, and equity. Evidence from around the world shows that relatively inexpensive shits to self-care, like allowing people to access medications for common ailments without a prescription, can save time, money, free up doctors for those who need them most, and help people feel better faster. In the United States, every dollar spent on consumer health products saves an estimated $6-7 elsewhere in the healthcare system. 

Strengthening digital health is a key part of strengthening self-care in Canada and maximizing its benefits. In order to strengthen digital health resources, we must consider shifting consumer habits with regard to regulatory obstacles. Retail e-commerce sales increased significantly during the pandemic, doubling between February and May 2020 alone. 

Unfortunately, Canadian regulatory approaches have not adapted to the modern environment. The rapid shift to e-commerce has emphasized how differences in regulation for the same products can impact price and consumer choice. If Canadians can’t get the products they want at the price they want in Canada, they will look elsewhere, particularly online and from the United States, to find the same or similar products for less. This results in foreign, unapproved products entering the Canadian market.

Canada needs to embrace innovative regulatory approaches to realize the flexible labeling opportunities arising from increased online sales, provide consumers with the digital information they need to make informed choices, and tackle the illicit market.

Whether shopping in a drug store or online, consumers today want access to more information than could ever fit on a printed label. That’s why digital labeling innovations are such promising tools to support digital health and self-care. FHCP’s SmartLabelTM program puts detailed product information at consumers’ fingertips, for a wide range of food, beverage, pet care, household, and personal care products. If Canada allowed it, digital labeling would allow consumer healthcare companies to quickly, efficiently provide and update the information Canadians need to make the right self-care choices for themselves and their families. 

In today’s modern world, digital health is a cornerstone of ensuring Canadians have the supports, products, and services they need to practice self-care. FHCP believes every Canadian should have fair and affordable access to self-care products and services. Self-care empowers Canadians to manage their health. Canada should support growth and innovation in the consumer health sector that powers self-care.