TELUS | 2020 Canadian SDG Accelerators Awards Profile

TELUS

Industry: Telecommunications

Website: telus.com/sustainability

Category: Large

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being

Applicable Targets:

  • 3.4: By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being
  • 3.5: Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol
  • 3.8: Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all

Please explain why the selected SDG is a priority for your company

TELUS is a national communications and information technology company driven by our passionate social purpose to connect all Canadians for good. We serve 15.4 million customers across wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video and security; provide healthcare technology through TELUS Health, Canada’s largest healthcare IT provider; and deliver customer experience solutions through TELUS International. 

Contributing to SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being is a priority for TELUS because we believe in the power of technology to create better health experiences for Canadians. TELUS Health exemplifies our social purpose by using technology to address one of Canada’s most pressing challenges – healthcare effectiveness and efficiency. We have identified five key issues where health information and our communications technology can make a positive difference:

  • Chronic disease management – Our Electronic Medical Records and clinical information systems support healthcare providers in their chronic disease management. Patients can manage their own health information through our Home Health Monitoring program and our Personal Health Records.
  • Medication management – Our solutions for pharmacists, insurers and other healthcare stakeholders support medication management across Canada. From renewing prescriptions online to having physicians electronically prescribe, our solutions connect patients and care teams.
  • Wait times and access to care – We strive to help health authorities and clinics streamline processes so they can reduce wait times and enhance patient care. Our solutions can help organizations coordinate time, people and resources online, and allow clinics to offer online booking.
  • Focus on prevention and patient self-management – We believe in arming patients with the tools they need to take control of their health and treatment options. Our suite of online tools lets patients access information about lifestyle choices, medication, chronic conditions and more.
  • Commitment to improving performance – We strive to improve the performance of healthcare services in Canada by fostering collaboration across sectors. Our technology connects members involved in the healthcare ecosystem, from physicians to pharmacists to insurers.

For over a decade, we’ve been committed to providing solutions to connect Canada’s healthcare industry. We leverage our digital expertise, our robust infrastructure and our solid network to offer technology that evolves to meet many of the needs of the healthcare ecosystem. With our dedication to developing innovative solutions, we’re future-proofing healthcare.

Please describe the initiatives/programs that your company is taking to address the TARGETS of your primary SDG.

We believe that the most effective healthcare is patient-centric, encourages self-management, is built on evidence-based outcomes and is supported with leading tools and technology. Our solutions offer patients, doctors and pharmacists increased collaboration and efficiency in addition to greater access to healthcare and better patient outcomes. 

Home Health Monitoring (Target 3.4)

Home Health Monitoring (HHM) allows patients to securely send daily biometrics to their care teams from the comfort of their homes, who can intervene as required. TELUS HHM has been in use in BC since 2013 for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart failure and respiratory disease; it’s now being used in British Columbia for COVID-19 patient tracking to help manage early response, preventing decline in patient’s health and acute care visits. By enabling clinicians to provide care at a safe distance, TELUS HHM allows for increased healthcare team productivity, enabling more evidence-based care and more efficient patient case management for more patients.

LivingWell Companion™ (Target 3.4)

Supporting our aging population is an increasing challenge in Canada. LivingWell Companion is a personal emergency response service (PERS) that makes living an independent life more secure at any stage of life. It is designed to alert trained operators when the emergency button is pressed or when the built-in fall detection feature, if equipped, automatically detects a fall. In 2019, TELUS became the largest Canadian-owned provider of personal emergency response services, proudly giving freedom to Canadians who want to live independently at home for longer; while offering peace of mind to their family and loved ones with the assurance of safety and security.

Electronic health records (Target 3.5)

Electronic health records (EHR) provide healthcare professionals with holistic patient information while enabling the sharing of patient health data across the continuum of care. 

EHR are comprised of two main components: 

  1. i) Health Integration Platform, which connects pharmacists, physicians and other healthcare professionals while providing access to patient information, enabling patient data to be shared between providers.
  2. ii) Drug Information System, which enables healthcare professionals to see an accurate medication profile for a patient. This digital solution lets physicians, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals access a patient’s complete drug profile. 

The centralized information and enhanced collaboration between healthcare professionals results in better health outcomes for Canadians.

Babylon by TELUS Health (Target 3.8)

In March 2019, in partnership with Babylon Health, we launched Babylon by TELUS Health. This is a virtual healthcare solution delivered through an app that enables Canadians to take control of their health from the convenience of their smartphone. The video consultation feature allows Canadians to securely and privately speak to a provincially licensed doctor wherever they are using their smartphones. Doctors are available for consultations seven days a week, including holidays, improving capacity and flexibility to patients’ ability to access care. Patients can also review and manage their securely-stored health information from the app, such as their doctor’s consultation notes, or view and pick-up prescriptions at their preferred pharmacy. Virtual consults are available free of charge for residents covered under provincial health plans in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, to residents of Ontario. Free to all Canadians is the Artificial-Intelligence powered Symptom Checker which allows patients to check their symptoms and receive suggested courses of action for their health concerns. Additionally, all users have access to Healthcheck which is a free health assessment that provides practical insights about one’s physical and mental health, along with tips to make positive lifestyle changes to improve well-being.

Please highlight the key impacts and results of the mentioned initiatives

Home Health Monitoring

Enabling patients to receive the care they need from the comfort of their homes can significantly improve the quality of life for patients with chronic conditions: “The technology that has been created through TELUS has made my life better. I feel more secure because I know that I’m being monitored 24 hours a day.” says Carolyn, a patient using Home Health Monitoring. In B.C., patients with heart or respiratory issues using TELUS Health Home Health Monitoring reported 81% fewer emergency room visits and 92% fewer hospital admissions. The dashboard-style program provides clinicians with crucial information on each patient’s health, allowing them to remotely triage cases and quickly identify those in need of urgent care. They can manage a large number of patients at one time; current statistics show that ratio to be approximately one clinician to 200 patients, depending on the monitoring model.

LivingWell Companion™

As the population of Canadian seniors is expected to rapidly increase by 2030 (Government of Canada), so will the demand for technology that can enable safe, independent living. Currently, 85% of Canadian seniors want to age in their own homes (HomeStars). LivingWell Companion empowers Canadian seniors to age confidently and independently by providing access to 24/7 emergency support at the push of a button or through an optional fall detection feature. With falls being the most common cause of injury for seniors (Statistics Canada), caregivers can also enjoy greater peace of mind knowing their loved ones are connected to help in case of a medical emergency.

Electronic health records 

Electronic medical records (EMR) help health authorities and hospitals gain efficiencies, thereby enabling healthcare professionals to focus on their patients. The Health Integration Platform of the EMR provides an easily accessible comprehensive view of patient medical history and facilitates collaboration between different healthcare settings. This rapid flow of information allows for efficient coordination of time, people and resources. With the Drug Information System component of the EMR, healthcare providers are able to reduce the potential of adverse drug events as patient profiles include information on allergies, intolerances, vaccinations, contraindications and clinical observations and is a single repository of all the drugs that have been prescribed, regardless of prescriber or dispensing site. Additionally, visibility into a complete drug history helps physicians and pharmacists identify potentially dangerous drug interactions.

Babylon by TELUS Health

Babylon provides Canadians with more options for accessing quality healthcare and communicating more efficiently with healthcare practitioners from anywhere, at any time. Up to 80% of primary care needs can be addressed through virtual care, reducing the burden on emergency care services, and keeping individuals safer by reducing exposure to themselves or others through visiting a medical office or clinic. Babylon by TELUS Health complements existing healthcare services across the country for people in rural areas or living with mobility issues, those who are unable to access non-emergency healthcare after hours (50% of Canadians find it difficult to access care on evenings, weekends or holidays), and for the five million Canadians who do not have a family physician.

Please describe how your company is building awareness for the selected SDG

We are building awareness of the SDGs and our commitment to advancing SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being through both external and internal communications. Communication tactics have included:

Please outline the plans your organization has for being committed to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in response to COVID-19. (maximum 1000 words)

Our people, our networks, and our technologies are at the ready to connect and secure the health of Canadians from coast to coast. We are committed to advancing the SDGs in response to COVID-19 and beyond.

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being

Over the last 10 years, TELUS has invested over $3 billion in transforming healthcare in Canada. Canadians and our healthcare system are facing unprecedented times. Keeping healthcare professionals and their patients connected while protecting everyone’s health and well-being is more crucial than ever. 

Applying Home Health Monitoring (HHM) to COVID-19 – By remotely assessing and screening potential cases of COVID-19, HHM has kept people who do not need urgent care at home while helping alleviate some of the strain on the public health services. In British Columbia, HHM is being used to monitor patients while they recover from COVID-19 and in Ontario, HHM technology has been integrated into an online self-assessment tool for Torontonians.  

Enabling virtual visits through Electronic Medical Records (EMR) – We accelerated the development of a virtual video functionality for our EMR offerings so clinicians can continue to provide Canadians with effective healthcare despite physical distancing. This new technology enables 26,000 Canadian family doctors to conduct virtual visits with their patients.

Using aggregated network data to support COVID-19 research – The TELUS Data for Good program provides de-identified network mobility data and insights to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This new partnership and information sharing could help governments and health authorities develop public policy and determine where to allocate much-needed resources. 

Supporting public healthcare and COVID-19 relief effortsTELUS Friendly Future Foundation made a $10 million commitment to enhance public healthcare capacity and community response across Canada. This new funding will go toward purchasing medical technology and equipment, such as ventilators, as well as increased support for food security, outreach to isolated seniors, virtual education programs, and mental health initiatives. Additionally, we launched reusable cloth masks featuring TELUS’ loveable critters and nature themes to raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts; raising over $300,000 to date.

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

We create critical connections through our transformational network investments. Since 2000, TELUS has invested almost $200 billion in network infrastructure, spectrum, and operations to amplify the coverage, speed, and reliability of our world leading technology.

Reliable wireless and wireline networks – As part of our unwavering commitment to ensure Canadians can rely on our secure networks to stay connected, we continue to grow and maintain capacities that provide customers a seamless, robust experience in these challenging times. In June we launched a groundbreaking new tier of home Internet: TELUS PureFibre 1.5 Gigabit, marking a substantial leap in available speeds for residents in B.C. and Alberta.

Empowering Canadians with connectivity – In response to COVID-19, we expanded some of our TELUS Connecting for Good programs to provide connectivity to even more Canadians in need. 

SDG 4: Quality Education

We are on a mission to create a safer, friendlier world online through our educational initiatives and innovative support for our communities.

Educating Canadians to stay safe in a digital world – As connecting digitally becomes our new normal, staying safe online has never been more important. TELUS Wise is a free digital literacy education program that offers informative workshops and resources to help Canadians of all ages have positive experiences as digital citizens. Since inception, over 250,000 Canadians have participated in TELUS Wise workshops. 

Ending the stigma of mental health challengesDark Cloud, a TELUS Originals documentary, examines a growing epidemic deeply affecting the mental, emotional and even physical well-being of today’s youth — the toll of cyberbullying and digital antagonism. The documentary, along with resources for parents, educators and youth, is available for free on TELUS.com, TELUS Optik TV, and TELUS Youtube channel.

Engaging youth in STEM – We evolved our existing partnerships with TELUS Spark and TELUS World of Science Edmonton to offer Virtual Summer Camps powered by TELUS. The program engaged campers in topics such as engineering and math, coding, space and astronomy, sports and nutrition, and nature.

Supporting Canadians with practical tips – Recognizing the need for reliable and accurate information throughout the pandemic, we launched a new podcast series. From health and wellness, to community and social responsibility, the TELUS Talks with Tamara Taggart podcast shares stories, busts myths and delivers practical tips to Canadians when they need it most.

SDG 13: Climate Action

We have a longstanding commitment to reduce our impact on the environment and care for our planet. In 2019, we exceeded our previous climate goals and achieved a 31% GHG emissions reduction over 2010 levels for our domestic operations. We are now striving to:

  • Procure 100% of electricity requirements from renewable sources by 2025
  • Achieve net carbon neutral operations by 2030
  • Improve energy efficiency by 50% between 2020 and 2030  

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Collaborating with partners is key to many of our initiatives that advance the SDGs. Additionally, our response to COVID-19 came to fruition by expanding pre-existing partnerships, as well as forming new relationships with partners across Canada.