Mobile Health Clinics Leverage Tech to Provide Care to Disadvantaged

By: Yasmin Ranade

February 22, 2021

TELUS Health for Good program recently expanded to Toronto to provide essential primary medical and mental health care to underserved populations. The TELUS Health for Good program now operates in 11 cities coast-to-coast, providing primary care and removing barriers faced by those living on the streets.

Photo credit Nick Menzes

TELUS and Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre, a community-based health service organization serving south-west Toronto, launched the Parkdale Queen West Mobile Health Clinic in late January. University Health Network’s Social Medicine Unit is an evaluative partner for the program. As well as providing essential primary health and harm reduction services to underserved citizens in south-west Toronto neighbourhoods, TELUS’s clinic will enable mobile COVID testing at homeless sheltering sites and congregate housing for marginalized populations in areas with high positivity rates.

These innovative mobile health clinics will allow physicians and nurses to: 

  • Collect and store health data using Electronic Medical Records (EMR) to examine results over time and provide better continuity of care for underserved patients
  • Create digital records for previously undocumented medical histories, helping communities enter the healthcare system and prevent them from falling through the cracks

Nimmi Kanji, Director of Community Investment & Corporate Citizenship TELUS

I asked Nimmi Kanji, Director of Community Investment and Corporate Citizenship at TELUS, to elaborate on TELUS-owned technologies, particularly its EMR technology.

Kanji began,As the largest Canadian health IT provider and as a company focused on bridging digital divides to improve Canadians’ lives, TELUS believes it holds a responsibility to leverage the power of technology to deliver better health outcomes for Canadians – including those in need.”

Kanji then replied, “The mobile health clinics powered by TELUS Health are equipped with TELUS electronic medical record (EMR) and TELUS LTE Wi-Fi network technology to assist onboard healthcare providers in delivering immediate and 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.”

Added Kanji, “TELUS EMR technology provides solutions for general and specialty practices that captures, organizes and displays patient information in a user-friendly way. It enables healthcare workers to electronically manage patient charts and scheduling, receive labs and hospital reports directly in the EMR and personalize workflows with customizable templates, toolbars and encounter assistants, providing information at their fingertips so they can spend more time with patients and less time on administration.”

TELUS Health for Good operates somewhat uniquely in each region, and is made possible through partnerships. It’s further customized to support community needs.

Explained Kanji, “The program and partnerships are supported by a combined $10 million investment from TELUS. The Mobile Health Clinics are operated by healthcare workers – both physicians and nurses – from our partner organizations, including Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre in Toronto and Kilala Lelum in Vancouver.”

While the TELUS Health for Good program first launched in 2014, it has expanded since then.

“The two new Mobile Health Clinics – Parkdale Queen West Mobile Health Clinic in Toronto and Kilala Lelum Mobile Health Clinic in Vancouver – launched in late January and will be operational for the foreseeable future,” shared Kanji. “These clinics join the other 11 Mobile Health Clinics that are already operational across the country, 7 of which launched in 2020 in markets including Ottawa, Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Surrey and Peel Region.”

“The hours of operation and radius of service vary from clinic to clinic based on our partner organization’s intimate understanding of their communities, community partnerships and knowledge of where community healthcare supports are most urgently needed,” elaborated Kanji.

COVID-19 Impact

Responding to my interest in how TELUS Health for Good is supporting pandemic needs, Kanji explained, “All primary care offerings, including both COVID-19 assessments, tests and vaccinations are managed by our partner organizations who play a lead role in the mobile clinic operations and services.”

More specifically, Kanji also stated, “In response to the pandemic, many mobile clinics enabled mobile COVID-19 assessments and testing at homeless sheltering sites, congregate housing for marginalized populations and in areas with high positivity rates; in 2020 our clinics supported over 12,700 COVID-19 tests and assessments. Many of our Health for Good partners are also now currently developing plans for their involvement in their regions’ vaccination efforts and exploring how the Mobile Clinics will support these efforts.”

For more information about where each TELUS Health for Good mobile health clinics operate across Canada, click here.

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