Latest Thinking

Supporting the journey toward better health outcomes

August 3, 2018

Supporting the journey toward better health outcomes for employers and employees in Canada

Paul Lepage,
President
TELUS Health

I’m the parent of two kids with type 1 diabetes. I’ve witnessed my son battle cancer and undergo surgery. In the last few months, I’ve also been treated for cancer.

I’ve come away from these experiences with nothing but gratitude and admiration for our Canadian healthcare professionals. I am equally in debt to my employer and insurer for access to and reimbursement of prescription drugs and medical services such as counselling, wellness and extended healthcare providers. These have made a huge difference in how my family and I have managed these health challenges.

Every single Canadian knows what it’s like to be a patient. Many of us have even experienced taking care of loved ones with health conditions, a large percentage are dealing with chronic disease, too. These illnesses are demanding – of our time and emotions — and can take a toll on our day-to-day lives and those of our caregivers.

But I am encouraged by innovation. Technology breakthroughs allow me more and more to book appointments online with my specialists, videoconference with them from home, and get lab results more quickly through an online portal. We can lessen the demand that illnesses of all kinds take on our day-to-day lives with more solutions like this – whether it’s directly from our healthcare providers or through health insurance coverage from our employer.

As Canadians, we pride ourselves, rightly so, on a strong healthcare system that provides access to critical services when we need them.

However, like me, close to 24 million Canadians rely heavily on the healthcare plans they have through their employer to complement their needs and those of their family. In fact, 84 per cent of Canadians believe that employers have a responsibility to support the physical health of their employees, while 86 per cent feel the same about psychological health. More and more, we’re now also realizing that preventative care, and proactively taking time for our health, is crucial to living our best lives.

By our estimates at TELUS Health, employer and employee spending on healthcare services represents nearly a third of all healthcare spending in Canada. Our goal is to help our employees get access to quality care, and as a provider, help other employers get the most out of their healthcare coverage spending – so in turn, they too can keep their teams healthy and productive, ultimately reducing the overall burden on Canada’s public healthcare system.

Gaining access to quality care is incredibly important, given the number of Canadians facing chronic health issues, including mental health challenges. A 2018 study by Sanofi Canada, for example, revealed gaps in how employees feel they are able to manage their chronic conditions. The survey found that 58 per cent of workers have at least one chronic disease. In the face of this, barely half of the employees surveyed said their health benefit plans meet their needs extremely or very well.

The same study found that 47 per cent of the plan members surveyed had missed work or found it harder to do their jobs because of a chronic illness, up from 38 per cent in 2016.

It’s with all this in mind that TELUS recently acquired Medisys Health Group, a leading provider of preventive healthcare and wellness services for workplaces across Canada. With this acquisition, two Canadian companies with solid, decades-long track records in technology and clinical services are coming together to help support healthcare transformation in this country.

At Medisys Health Group clinics across Canada, we’ll deliver employee-centered care, backed by TELUS’ world-leading broadband networks and supported by digital tools such as patient portals, virtual care, wellness and mental health applications, electronic prescribing, electronic benefit claims and secure messaging. Every clinic will be outfitted with the full suite of TELUS Health solutions, including innovations from some of our top health IT partners across the country.

Our vision is to make it easier for every level of employee at Canadian companies of all sizes – including within TELUS – to take care of themselves and their loved ones, physically and mentally, without feeling the burden of missing too much work or disrupting their day-to-day lives because of travel requirements.

And we’ll keep pushing forward. The Medisys Health Group network will serve as an innovation hub for next-generation technology, as well as preventative care and wellness programs so patient outcomes can be measured. We will have the ability to then offer these outcomes-based best practices to other clinics across the country. In my view, this will have the power to dramatically shift how all Canadians experience care across the entire healthcare system for the better.

As a leading provider of digital health solutions for healthcare providers, health authorities, insurers and employers, we have also witnessed what is possible when co-existing health delivery models work together, learn from one another and drive hard at innovation. We’re passionate about this and we are also committed to continuing to support healthcare professionals and partner with government to keep Canadians’ health information on Canadian soil and secure. We’re equally passionate about keeping our team member’s healthy and providing our most vulnerable Canadians with access to quality care through our TELUS Mobile Health Clinics.

All of us experience and bear witness every day to how health challenges can affect our quality of life. The digital tools we have at our disposal today would have saved my family lots of time and worry twenty years ago when my kids were diagnosed with diabetes. This is what keeps me going – we may never fully escape chronic health issues, but with innovation and the right partnerships to support better adherence to care plans and higher patient engagement, we can absolutely improve how we take them on, together.