The economic impact, social, and public value of MedicAlert Foundation Canada

Nurse giving presciption to elderly woman

Within Canada, about one in every three people has a medical condition or takes medication that would be important to know about to prevent or respond to an emergency. That’s why, since 1961, MedicAlert Foundation Canada (MAFCA) has helped protect over one million Canadians by helping first responders and health care providers access health information quickly.

 Despite the realized successes of MAFCA, only recently have we begun to appreciate the role we play in helping to reduce health spending and the additional health system benefits we provide.

 Specifically, in 2020, the Swinburne University of Technology released a report which evaluated the economic benefit and public value of the Australia MedicAlert Foundation (AMAF).

 This research found that the work of AMAF helped to reduce unnecessary health care spending and was indeed held in high regard for the public value that AMAF provides.  Though the results of this report are significant within an Australian context, a similar evaluation of MAFCA had yet to be conducted.

 Accordingly, this report presents the findings of a research study that sought to understand the economic impact and public value of MAFCA. Following in the footsteps of the AMAF report, we undertook a similar approach to guide the efforts of this work.

 We began with nearly 180,000 subscriber records and three broad questions:

  1. What are the MAFCA subscriber utilization rates and trends across Canada?
  2. What is the perceived and realized public value of MAFCA?
  3. What is the economic and social value of MAFCA?

What we learned was both insightful and fascinating.

Question #1: What are the MAFCA subscriber utilization rates and trends across Canada?

To answer this question, a descriptive exploratory analysis of a sample dataset was completed to appreciate the following: 

  • Where MAFCA subscribers reside across Canada, by province/territory
  • Who MAFCA subscribers are by examining demographic characteristics such as identified gender, age, and number of health conditions/use of devices
  • Why subscriptions with MAFCA may be sought

This research revealed that while MAFCA subscribers can are found across the entire Canadian landscape, this distribution varies across regions. For example, a higher subscriber density is found within Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Manitoba, with lower-density areas of Nunavut, Quebec, and the Northwest Territories.

This research also found that subscriber type (by medical condition or presence of medical device) varied across demographic variables, especially age and gender. For instance, the top five medical conditions/presence of medical devices differed by subscribers in pediatric, adult, and older adult age groups.

The proportion of males and females also depended on age, with males demonstrating a greater proportion of subscribers in those under 40, changing to females making up the greatest proportion after age 40.

Finally, using mapping techniques, rates of medical conditions/presence of medical devices were also found to vary across regions within Canada.

Question #2: What is the perceived and realized public value of MAFCA?

To answer this second question, quantitative and qualitative techniques were used to understand the perceived and realized public value of MAFCA. Here, an adapted version of MedicAlert Australia’s public value survey was distributed electronically across Canada, resulting in 888 participants completing the entire survey.

Quantitative analysis of this survey revealed that depending on how an individual interacts with MAFCA, the perceived or realized public value of MAFCA varied by group.

For example, $1 invested into MedicAlert’s services to locate persons with dementia who wander or become lost delivers $9.13 of social value.

Question #3: What is the economic and social value of MAFCA?

Using the most recent methodology developed by Nicholls et al. (2012), an interactive Social Return on Investment (SROI) calculator was developed for a very specific population we serve: those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Interested in knowing MedicAlert’s quantifiable social Return on investment? Download the entire research study and learn just how much $1 invested in MedicAlert will return in quantifiable social impact.