TELUS began moving into healthcare in 2018, acquiring medical clinics and spending over $2bn on digital health, leading TELUS Health to become Canada’s biggest healthcare IT company. TELUS said it had invested over $3bn over the last 10 years in the healthcare sector.
In a press release, François Gratton, Group President of TELUS and Chair of TELUS Health and TELUS Québec, said: “Overnight, the COVID-19 crisis triggered major changes in our lives and, in particular, greater awareness of health and wellness in our society. Today more than ever, access to health care is everyone’s business. I firmly believe that we have some fantastic opportunities to take advantage of as we write new pages in our history.
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The company said that virtual healthcare could be an economic boon, with the technology representing an opportunity beyond the current pandemic to reduce absenteeism, stimulate productivity and increase employee retention. TELUS further said it had committed $150mn “to support Canadians through the COVID-19 crisis.”
“Today, all employers are being called upon, through the decisions they make about the benefits they offer employees, to consider the offering of virtual care solutions such as those provided by TELUS Health’s Akira and Babylon applications, connecting Canadians and their families to health professionals over their phones, and giving them the opportunity to get an opinion anytime, anywhere.”
The company’s Akira virtual care solution is a smartphone or computer-based application allowing 24/7 access to medical consultants for services such as prescriptions, diagnosis and mental health.
Babylon is the company’s mobile healthcare app, for checking symptoms, accessing health records and consulting doctors. The app utilises AI to ask questions about symptoms and suggests remedies, while also allowing video consultations with doctors.