Compared to citizens in the US, Canadians have always had something to crow about. Every citizen in Canada has healthcare. Sure, the system isn’t perfect but it does provide a safety net for all Canadian citizens. Never mind that no one has been going bankrupt because they can’t pay their medical bills. Now, Canadians have something else that matters. They have TELUS health space powered by Microsoft HealthVault.
Lately, some folks have been questioning whether citizens are ready for a personal health record, or for that matter, even want one. Citing Google’s struggle to be relevant with Google Health, Health industry analyst John Chilmark recently questioned whether there is a market for personal health records. Well, there may not yet be a “market” but to me that entirely misses the point. What we are talking about here is not a market, it’s a fundamental upgrade to the ways people have traditionally received health information and medical services. It’s a shift that puts citizens and patients back where they belong in health and healthcare and that is at the center of it all.
Last week, Canadian telecom giant TELUS announced the launch of TELUS health space. Health space, like the HealthVault platform that powers it, is much more than a personal health record. It is a tool that will give citizens in Canada a wide variety of information and services to help them take control of their health. It puts citizens at the center. It’s elective. You can use as much or as little as you want. You can securely store your health information and share it with whomever needs to see it—your spouse, your caregiver, your child, or your doctor. It will connect to medical devices that you may bring into your home such as glucometers, blood pressure cuffs, weight scales, spirometers, pedometers, and other devices that measure physiological information. The information captured by these devices can flow into you health space record, and like other information, can be shared with your family members, doctor or other caregivers. Health space will also provide information and guidance from respected health organizations and individuals. It will become an invaluable tool that will help you communicate and collaborate with your doctors and others who care for you. And it’s not just about what you do on a computer. It’s about what you do on any device that connects to the Net, and that is likely to include your television in the years ahead.
Governments around the world are looking for ways to provide better, more efficient, more convenient, less costly care to citizens. Everywhere I go in the world, government health leaders, administrators and clinicians ask me how they will get this done. I think the answer is pretty clear. Whether a country builds it or implements a readymade solution, follow the model and the example set by HealthVault and partners like TELUS. This my friends is the future, and for the citizens of Canada, the future is already here. And what you see today is only the beginning. For more information, visit TELUS health space. Oh Canada!
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft