Taken from Canadian Healthcare Technology
Telus “gets real” with personal health records
By Rosie Lombardi
Telus is working to make sharing healthcare data between patients and doctors easier. The company recently made some significant investments in Get Real Health, a Maryland-based patient engagement software company. Get Real Health specializes in personal health record (PHR) technology, powered by their award-winning software platform InstantPHR. “One of the key things that we’re trying to do is to get patients to become more involved in managing their own health with technology,” says Stéphane Couture (pictured), Director of Consumer Health Solutions at Telus.
Telus already has a partnering arrangement to offer HealthVault – Microsoft’s PHR – in Canada, but the addition of Get Real boosts its capabilities and makes it easier to use for specific medical conditions and environments, says Couture.
“Get Real is the presentation layer. So if you view it as two-layer solution, the bottom layer is the safe and secure Health Vault environment, which is basically the data repository. Get Real’s platform sits on top of that, but it doesn’t have a database. It’s actually leveraging the Health Vault database. So, technically, you feed the information from the source systems into Health Vault. The source systems could be an EMR portal, pharmacy platform, biometric devices like glucometers, and so on. All of these back-end data sources feed into the Health Vault and then Get Real grabs all of this data and presents it to the user.”
HealthVault’s design is generic and static, he adds. “When you find yourself in a very generic system that’s not necessarily specific to your condition, then the user experience is not as good as it would be using a Get Real configured application. One of the key things that differentiate Get Real from the other platforms out there is that it’s not a static PHR, it’s actually a toolkit offering about 225 apps that you can use and assemble a patient engagement solution.”
For example, Telus’ enhanced PHR is already in use at the Lawson Research Institute. “Say I’ve got a mental health patient that I’m tracking. The application has been configured with apps that are very specific to mental health conditions, things like food monitors, mood diaries, and so on. If you wanted to use it to track diabetes, there is another set of apps for that.”
A flexible PHR also makes life easier for doctors, both in terms of satisfying patient demand for more personalized medical information, and in tracking their compliance with treatment plans.
“You’ll often find patients showing up with paper trackings of their glucose readings and things like that. But doctors say they do not feel patient-entered data is a good way for them to look into data. They would rather see an automated feed from a glucometer. The PHR can automate that. And once it’s integrated to the backend EMR, doctors can generate reports that show trends in glucose and other factors.”
Telus is working to integrate and Get Real with its three recently acquired EMR systems – Wolf, Kinlogix and PS Suite – and to consolidate them all into one seamless system.
“We have a specific physician-patient portal that we are deploying on top of our three EMRs that are very specific to the patient-physician relationship. This allows exchanges of information between the EMR and the patient, and offers transactional tools like appointment scheduling and reminders. The way the PHR actually fits into the mix is that it sits on top of the different portals and/or data sets because it acts as an aggregator. This is actually what the province of Alberta is in the process of doing with their eventual rollout of the PHR.”
Couture says Telus has several projects afoot to pilot Get Real with its EMR systems, some of which are part of the Alberta roll-out.
“Albertan citizens will soon have access to the feature. We also have pilots in Quebec to integrate Kinlogix directly with the PHR.
We’re also launching a new project in Quebec to look at doctor efficiencies using the PHR. We are monitoring all of these projects to see how the technology impacts doctors.”
Behind the scenes, it will take several years before all three EMRs are consolidated into one seamless Telus mega-EMR with connections to other healthcare entities and systems. But in the short term, the company is working to add more features and functionality in 2014, says Couture. As Wolf was the first EMR company Telus acquired, it is further along than the other two.
“The features that will be launched on Wolf through 2014 will soon be available in PS Suite and Kinlogix: the mobile EMR, patient portal and clinic portal will be rolled out across these platforms. And we’re adding new functionality as we speak, such as the ability to do online booking, messaging with the doctor, lab results distribution and some notifications around lab check-ups. And we’ll keep investing and accelerating our investments in pediatric functionality and referrals to specialists.”
For more information, visit http://www.telushealth.com/