Advocate for Better Healthcare: The TELUS Health Advocacy Program

As part of our commitment to transforming healthcare in Canada, this past week we launched our TELUS Health Advocacy Program, which aims to empower people through education to help bring Canadians into the digital age when it comes to their health!

What does it take to be a TELUS Health Advocate? It’s pretty simple. You need to have a desire to learn how innovative health technology, like Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), will help you better manage your own health and the health of your family (it also happens to mean you’d like to win an iPad Air).

Personally, I take a proactive approach to health which thankfully results in infrequent medical appointments and prescriptions for both me and my family. However, a necessary visit to the pediatrician recently revealed it had been over two years since our last visit. And what’s more, I learned that my children’s medical records had been shipped to an offsite storage facility. This got me thinking — without these records on hand, how could the doctor look up my children’s medical history? Was he relying on memory alone? Where were the records? How safe were they? What if I needed information quickly in the event of an emergency?

Maybe you’ve discovered the downsides of paper-based health records firsthand, or are like me and simply find it all a little unsettling. Personal narratives aside, let’s look at the facts:

  • According to a 2011 Conference Board of Canada study, if Canadians had been able to consult with their physicians and access test results online, or renew prescriptions electronically, they could have:
    • Avoided nearly 47 million in-person visits to health care providers
    • Taken 8 million fewer hours off work and had 51 million extra hours to spend on non-paid activities such as education, volunteer work and leisure
    • For a total savings of nearly 70 million hours

In Canada, adoption rates for EMRs sit at 57 per cent for primary care physicians. Comparatively, Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have adoption rates of 97 per cent or more; and the United States has a 70 per cent adoption rate.

Although Canada is recognized worldwide as having one of the best health care systems, it is also true that it is under serious strain and will continue to be for the foreseeable future unless we move quickly towards eHealth.

EMRs can:

  • Improve the medical care you receive as a patient by allowing your doctor to spend more time with you discussing your proactive health
  • Enable more efficient processes and reduce the risk of errors
  • Give you and your doctor quicker access to your full medical history making it easier to identify patterns of illness
  • Allow your doctor to make more informed care recommendations

Doctors have the ability to communicate with pharmacies and labs electronically, and collaborate with your insurance provider to prescribe medications that have the highest coverage under your plan.

If you’re enthusiastic like me about improving healthcare in Canada, sign up to become an advocate and spread the word to friends and family about what TELUS is doing to shape the future of Canada’s healthcare system. Ask your doctor what he/she is doing to bring Canada’s aging healthcare system into the digital age for improved care.

It won’t be long before our medical records are electronically shared between all of our health care providers. Imagine having your own personal team of health care professionals – your doctor, holistic nutritionist, chiropractor and naturopath, collaborating and working together to manage your health. Whether it’s personal for your children or aging parents, we all have a vested interest in the transition to digital health.

Jill Yetman is a Senior Communications Manager at TELUS. Follow her on Twitter @jyetman.