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
Bill - you're comments really hit home! We are very fortunate to be here in Canada and we are ecstatic to be partnering with Microsoft to bring TELUS health space to our citizens. The future is here and I hope other countries will follow suit so that some day everyone will have access to cost-effective, convenient and high quality care - wherever they are, whenever they want. The true north strong and free!
Why should Canadians trust an American company like Microsoft? This company is not to be trusted as their security record is very poor. Also, why should Telus try to piggyback on health vault? Isn't is a free service?
Dave, Thanks for your comment. You question is very pertinent. Here is what you and all Canadians should know about the new Health Space service in Canada.
TELUS Health Space is being run by TELUS in Canada, on Canadian servers – it is a completely distinct service from the instance of HealthVault we run in the United States. The Health Space service (including both the service and software behind it) is the first platform to achieve Canada Health Infoway pre-implementation certification (see www.infoway-inforoute.ca/.../certified-products) --- a program designed by Canadians to ensure that personal health platforms live up to the expectations of Canadian citizens.
Privacy and security have been fundamental to the design and development of HealthVault from day one. We have conducted (and continue to repeat) extensive internal and external assessments and simulated attacks of our platform to ensure we are doing the best job we can for our users. Our belief is that TELUS feels the same sense of responsibility, and are committed to operating a service that meets the needs of the citizens of Canada.
Special thanks to my colleague and HealthVault/Health Solutions Group CTO, Sean Nolan, for weighing in on this.
Bill Crounse, MD
Many native Hawaiians believe in more privacy, not less - and then moving to traditional healing practices and lifestyles. Might not the extra "big brother" type info release be a means for control somewhere into the future?? Try a a natural lifestyle and less computer time(!), and if you can come visit us! Aloha.
Hawaii retreat. Thanks for your comment. Your information on HealthVault is private and secure. We take that VERY seriously. Regarding a visit to Hawaii. We'll be there soon. My wife and I met on Maui many years ago. Hawaii is one of our favorite spots on earth. Mahalo Nui Loa.
Bill Crounse, MD
I like the fact that the Telus solution allows flexibility - from what you've described, users can share as much information as they want to, in a variety of forms. Being able to interface with users on their terms in the way they choose should help this be a relevant part of care and not just a distraction or waste of time. This would get even more important with older users, users unfamiliar with technology, and users with language or communication challenges.
It's about time that Canada steps up to the plate and launches a robust and interoperable EHR system. I like the fact the THS is supporting an elective system and I'm confident this type of user system will garnish wider acceptance.
One shortfall this system has is its reliance on both power and the web to work. Furthermore what if I'm traveling outside of Canada as many of us do: would my records travel with me?
I recently came across a device that allows for mobile storage of EHR compete with its own power source. This allows immediate on site access to pertinent medical grade data at the scene of an accident, abroad or in our doctors office.
It would be great to see a partnership with THS and the LifeGuard30 for a truly robust solution.
It seems I came to this late. Unlike other Canadians I would MUCH prefer this to be run by Microsoft for Canadians - or at least for us consumers to have the choice to use the U.S. version. I trust Microsoft and Silicon Valley. I do NOT trust big telcoms in Canada who have a history of nickle and diming Canadians to death. There are few sectors more despised than the telcom and cable industry in this country. Why the heck is a telecom company in the health records market anyway! I also travel to the U.S. I sometimes live in the U.S. I'm wondering if I used this system if it would be available to me while in the U.S. I'd also like an iPhone/iPad app interface to this. Microsoft has one. So far I can't tell if Telus does. Grrrr!!!
Since this was written back in 2010, much has changed. And, in fact, Microsoft will be the primary driver of HealthVault activities in Canada moving forward.