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Telus to invest $100 million in healthcare solutions

TORONTO – Telus announced that it will make capital investments in the healthcare segment of $100 million over the next three years. At the same time, the company launched its new brand, Telus Health Solutions.

“Many Canadians understand and support the need for technology in the Canadian healthcare system,” said Joe Natale, president, Telus Business Solutions. “The transformation of healthcare in Canada is a huge undertaking that will take many hands.

“As a sign of our commitment,” said Natale, “we are announcing our plans to invest $100 million in developing Telus Health Solutions over the next three years. We are very serious about making a difference in Canadian healthcare with applications and technology infrastructure that collects, processes, stores, and delivers health information.”

Photo above: TELUS’ Joe Natale (l), president, Business Solutions and François Côté (centre), president, TELUS  Health Solutions announce a $100 million investment in the healthcare sector with industry leaders Dr. Alan Brookstone (r), Sam Marafioti (second r), CIO, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Jean Huot (centre r), CIO, McGill University Health Centre,  and Wayne Gudbranson (centre l), CEO Branham Group. photo credit Tobin Grimshaw.

Francois Côté, president, Telus Health Solutions, said, “There is no question eHealth is creating a new era in Canadian healthcare. Today, patient information is scattered across a myriad of different electronic and paper-based systems, resulting in decisions being made without a complete picture of a patient’s history.

“We need to enable richer and more effective collaboration between the stakeholders of the health system in Canada,” he added. “Everyone focused on delivering care: providers, insurers, government, employers and individual Canadians themselves, will benefit from advances in technology.”

Côté said Telus Health Solutions will focus on:
• improving health outcomes
• increasing capacity and capabilities in the healthcare system
• preventive health solutions.

Asked whether Telus’ $100 million worth of investments will be made in-house on R&D, or in joint projects with healthcare partners, the Telus executives answered that it will be a mixture of the two. “We like to take our innovation to the healthcare sites, where it becomes a structured learning laboratory,” said Natale.

“You need feedback from clinicians,” said Côté. He added that, “We’ll also partner with other companies, so there will be an innovation multiplier effect.”

Both Natale and Côté stressed the time is ripe for the emergence of patient health records (PHRs), in which patients are in control of their electronic records. “We’re in a facility-centric era,” said Côté, “but we’re starting to move into a consumer-centric era. That will have a fundamental impact, as citizens want to manage their health.”

They made the announcement at a press event in Toronto, with major healthcare customers at the table – Sam Marafioti, VP and CIO of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, based in Toronto, and Jean Huot, CIO of both the McGill University Health Centre and the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM).

All three healthcare institutions are users of Telus’ Oacis electronic health record. Both Marafioti and Huot are backers of the Personal Health Record – Huot stating that his institutions will start developing a solution, while Marafioti noted that Sunnybrook has pioneered a PHR called Sunnybrook MyChart, a web-based solution that gives Sunnybrook patients access to their hospital-generated records.

Dr. Alan Brookstone, a physician and founder of the web site, which provides analysis and discussion of issues surrounding the electronic health record, hailed the concept of the personal health record. But he struck a realistic note, stating that only 20% to 25% of primary care physicians and specialists currently make use of an electronic record, thus making it difficult to move key patient information into personal health record repositories.

He said, however, that if electronic medical record systems were improved, physicians would be more eager to adopt them. It’s a misconception to think physicians are against technology, said Dr. Brookstone. But technology must be integrated into their workflow without disrupting the way they practice medicine.

At the same time, there are electronic solutions that would greatly improve the quality of care given to patients, solutions that don’t require a full-blown electronic medical record. These include electronic referrals to specialists and electronic prescribing, which would reduce the incidence of prescribing errors.

Wayne Gudbranson, president and CEO of Branham Group, a consultancy in Ottawa, stated at the event that Canada now spends $146 billion per year on healthcare. Outcomes could be improved through the use of personal health record systems, he said. “The PHR is the ultimate goal. It will allow us to take responsibility for our own health.”

The announcements were made with news from an Ipsos Reid/ Telus survey that reveals the majority of Canadians are still using paper to track their lifetime medical history. In an era of unprecedented technology advances, 55 per cent of Canadians are tracking their medical history on paper, one third electronically and one in four tracks it by memory.

The survey also reveals that the majority of Canadians agree that better health outcomes can be achieved when healthcare professionals have access to information through technology.

More than 90 per cent of those surveyed agreed that efficiencies in the system could be created through additional exchange of information amongst care givers and medical professionals; 93 per cent of Canadians surveyed said medical errors can be prevented by improving collaboration between medical professionals using technology.

About Telus
Telus is a leading national telecommunications company in Canada, with $9.5 billion of annual revenue and 11.5 million customer connections including 6 million wireless subscribers, 4.3 million wireline network access lines and 1.2 million Internet subscribers. TELUS provides a wide range of communications products and services including data, Internet protocol (IP), voice, entertainment and video. In support of our philosophy to give where we live, TELUS, our team members and retirees have contributed $113 million to charitable and not-for-profit organizations and volunteered more than 2.1 million hours of service to local communities since 2000. Nine TELUS Community Boards across Canada lead our local philanthropic initiatives. For more information about TELUS, please visit