B.C. Industry News

Vancouver Sun – Telus acquires Kelowna-based online health records company

March 3, 2014

By Gillian Shaw, Vancouver Sun  

Telus’ health unit is expanding its reach with the acquisition of Kelowna-based Med Access Inc., a company that provides online health records to 2,000 physicians in five provinces.

The purchase is the latest in an expansion that comes just over a year after Telus Health, a division of telecommunications giant Telus Corp., doubled its reach among Canadian doctors by buying Ontario’s largest electronic medical records (EMR) company.

The latest move extends Telus Health’s lead in the Canadian EMR field, where it holds 40 per cent of the market share, and brings to 12,500 the total number of doctors in Canada using its technology.
“We’re overwhelmingly the largest EMR company now in the country,” said Dr. Brendan Byrne, vice-president of Telus Physician Solutions.

Bryne said the country’s top four or five EMR companies account for approximately 75 per cent of market share, with the remaining 25 per cent split among 30 different smaller firms.

Each province in Canada has a funding program in which EMR vendors must be certified, and Bryne said Med Access is certified in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario.

“It solidifies our reach, making us the leading EMR vendor in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec — the provinces with the most physicians,” said Bryne.

Bryne said only 57 per cent of physicians in Canada have adopted electronic health records.

“There is still a third of Canadian doctors using paper-based systems,” he said. “The other trend we are also seeing is that a lot of doctors may have adopted solutions that were local server-based, not cloud-based.

“The first generation, I call it EMR 1.0, it’s software on a local server. By and large, the real issue with that is that the doctor is the IT department, which isn’t a great use of a doctor’s time, and the other problem is privacy and security of data. If the server gets stolen or something catastrophic happens and wipes out the server, that’s not a very good solution.”

Telus Health’s EMR is cloud-based, meaning medical records are stored online and accessible from a range of computing devices.

Unlike in the United States, where doctors have to switch to electronic records to receive full reimbursement for government medicare funding, Canadian doctors have no such incentive.

“What we’ve seen in Canada is that it has been a voluntary movement,” said Bryne. “Most large practices have moved to electronic records.”

He said the adoption rate is lower in smaller offices.

“The journey we are trying to take doctors along — we’re taking them from EMR 1.0 to EMR 2.0, where we have robust cloud solutions,” said Bryne. “Our mission is to turn information into better health outcomes.”

Telus declined to reveal financial terms of the deal, which will see all of Med Access’ 94 employees join Telus Physician Solutions. Paul Walker, former president and CEO of Med Access, becomes a consultant to Physician Solutions.