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How a new vision for health information can help Canada reimagine healthcare

A doctor speaks with an elderly couple at his desk.


Shereen feels persistent fatigue and sometimes, dizziness. Her sleep tracker shows her sleep has been deteriorating over the last few months.

She goes online to request an appointment with her family physician and automatically receives a digital questionnaire to complete prior to her visit. During the visit, the doctor reviews Shereen’s pre-completed form with her and prepares a requisition for blood work. The doctor sends the requisition to Shereen through the patient portal, along with information on how she might be able to improve her sleep.

During the same appointment, the doctor reviews Shereen’s preventative flow sheet and sees that it’s time for a routine colonoscopy due to Shereen’s family history. A referral is quickly sent to a colonoscopy centre nearby.

When her lab work comes back, the doctor receives a notification and then shares the results through the patient portal. 

This is just one example of how well-organized, digital health information simplifies the work of clinicians, creates enhanced patient engagement and helps to improve preventive care.

The challenge of managing patient data.

Healthcare generates reams of important patient information like lab results, clinical notes, prescriptions, diagnoses, referrals and treatment plans. Typically, this health information can be stored across different places and systems. Unfortunately, these systems don’t always interact with each other. Referrals can get lost. Lab results can go missing. Communication gaps can impact health outcomes. It’s difficult to gain meaningful insights because of limitations with the data available. 

To make matters worse, clinicians find they spend more time entering duplicate information, which means less time spent with patients. This can contribute to clinician burnout. Twenty-five percent of Ontario family doctors say that during the past month, tests or procedures for their patients had to be repeated because results were unavailable. 

Interoperability between tools, higher quality information and easier management of data can help to shorten wait times, cut costs, deliver better care and improve the health of Canadians. It can also empower patients and help reduce administrative burden on clinicians who suffer from “click fatigue.” As more and more healthcare professionals take advantage of the latest technology, the management of health information will improve overall.

A bright future for health information.

The future is about clear, accurate and accessible health information through the entire care journey for patients and all health professionals they encounter. Achieving this vision requires an evolution of the electronic medical records (EMR) system to help improve efficiency and deliver higher quality care.

“We’re reimagining the way that health information can facilitate the delivery of care ⸺ for the flow of information to lead to efficiencies and better insights for the clinician, and to provide more room for meaningful, compassionate interactions with their patients,” says Dr. Puneet Seth, managing principal at TELUS Health. “For the patient, this also means access to their health information, regardless of where they are located and which care providers they see.”

Easier communication between health professionals, and between doctors and their patients, helps to close care gaps and engage the patient as part of the process. Better access to vital data would help cut costs, improve outcomes and break down silos between different care environments like clinics, hospitals and allied health environments.

There are many ways we can bring this to life today and in the future:

  • Quick workflows to share lab results digitally with patients privately through a patient app
  • Intelligent reminders to patients for individualized screening that can help detect disease earlier or prevent it altogether, which can lead to better outcomes and reduced costs to the health system
  • Tracking a person’s quality of life and symptoms to help with diagnoses as well as monitoring the progress of treatment over time
  • Sharing patient-friendly clinical notes and treatment plans to help empower patients and create efficiencies for clinics
  • Embedding patient education tools, resources and handouts into care pathways to help improve communication, save clinician time and ensure patient adherence to treatment recommendations

“The right care often falls through the cracks within the healthcare system, and this could be a pivotal way to seal these gaps,” Dr. Seth says.

Watch a video to learn more about the TELUS Health vision for the TELUS Collaborative Health Record (CHR).

How to make the most of health information today.

As we move toward an exciting future with greater interoperability and information management, clinicians can get started by taking advantage of what’s available to them today. 

TELUS Collaborative Health Record offers innovative tools such as Qnaires (digital health questionnaires) to collect patient information in advance of appointments. Patient-provided information is pre-populated into the file saving clinician time, and allowing the doctor and patient more time to collaborate on care. 

Advanced, customizable analytics allow clinicians to better understand their patient populations. Patient messaging and virtual care functionality along with a patient app and web portal integrate with the patient’s chart and unlock tremendous efficiencies in workflow. In addition, services such as PrescribeIT® help simplify prescription management.

There is a great deal of potential to improve healthcare with a greater focus on harnessing the power of high quality health information. Technology is getting us there and by participating actively, clinicians can join the journey toward a more compassionate future with less administration and better health outcomes.