Specially-equipped mobile health ‘clinics on wheels’ across the country to provide primary care to more than 20,000 Canadians in need annually, where and when they need it most
AT a media conference in downtown Vancouver on Thursday, TELUS President & CEO Darren Entwistle announced a $5 million commitment to expand the company’s innovative Health for Good program nationally. The innovative program provides primary healthcare to vulnerable and underserved Canadians through the deployment of specially-equipped mobile health “clinics on wheels” into communities where frontline care is urgently needed. Once fully operational the program will be able to care for more than 20,000 Canadians annually.
Currently active in Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria and Calgary, these partner-operated mobile clinics act as a vital link between the communities in which they operate and the local health authority by facilitating better continuity of care for vulnerable people who are often experiencing homelessness or living with addiction and complex health issues including serious physical and mental illnesses; and cannot easily access traditional medical care yet are in urgent need of care.
To date, the technology-powered Mobile Health Clinics have supported nearly 10,000 patient visits and reintegrated more than half of these patients back into the public healthcare system. With the support of TELUS, the program will roll out to more than 10 communities in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia by 2019, enabling thousands more Canadians to access the primary care they urgently need.
“At TELUS, a cornerstone of our passionate social purpose is our heartfelt commitment to enabling better health outcomes for our fellow Canadians, which is why we have expanded our TELUS Health for Good program nationally,” said Entwistle. “As a part of our Connecting for Good portfolio, which includes Internet for Good – offering low cost high speed internet to low income families; and Mobility for Good – providing fully subsidized smartphones and data plans to youth transitioning out of foster care, our Health for Good program leverages the power of our technology to deliver customized, compassionate care and enable better health outcomes for more Canadians in need. Working in collaboration with community partners and organizations, we are bringing healthcare directly to the community and helping a traditionally underserved group receive the care they require in an environment that truly meets their unique needs.”
Providing healthcare to Canadians without access to the current healthcare system due to life or extenuating circumstances presents some unique challenges. Estimates show that between 150,000 and 300,000 individuals experience homelessness in Canada in a given year, and nearly 30,000 citizens experience homelessness across Canada on any given night. They also typically lack a documented medical history that can be referenced by healthcare practitioners. The majority of these Mobile Health Clinics will be equipped with TELUS Health’s electronic medical record (EMR) technology and TELUS LTE Wi-Fi network technology to assist the onboard care team in delivering immediate, quality care. Skilled practitioners will be able to collect and store data, examine results over time, and provide better continuity of care to patients who previously had undocumented medical histories.
At the event in Vancouver, attendees were invited to tour a Mobile Health Clinic which is divided into two main areas: the first for patient reception and nursing care; and the second with an examination table and doctor’s workstation including equipment necessary to provide primary healthcare such as routine testing, contraception, STI treatment, harm reduction services, and mental health care and counselling. The clinics will also include:
- Blood pressure machine with thermometer and pulse oximeter
- Otoscope and ophthalmoscope
- Emergency and harm reduction supplies
- Vaccination fridge for immunizations and lab specimens
- Locked cabinets for medications (note there are no narcotics onboard)
In 2014, TELUS was inspired by Doctors of the World, an organization that had been delivering healthcare services on foot in the streets and parks of Montreal, Quebec, for a decade, with nurses equipped with nothing more than clinical expertise and a backpack of medical supplies. Today, through numerous partnerships, volunteers, and the power of technology, that inspiration is about to become one of the most efficient and innovative mobile healthcare delivery tools in the world to reach the homeless.
By bringing healthcare directly to the communities and people that need it most, TELUS is reminding fellow Canadians that they are not alone, that they are cared for, and that there is indeed the promise of a friendlier future for everyone in our city and well beyond.