Continuing transformation of the health benefits ecosystem.

For the 15th annual TELUS Health Conference, Vice President, Health Benefits Management at TELUS Health, Laura Mensch, provides us with a retrospective. Where are we one year later? The challenges are still as complex, yet highly stimulating! One thing is clear: despite technological breakthroughs, the key to success is having a collaborative and pragmatic approach.

Significant mergers in the United States announced this time last year have materialized and other alliances between technological giants and the health industry have been formed. All players are seeking connected care; and with connected care comes greater emphasis on both patients and health service consumers.

From a regulatory standpoint, the recent announcement made by the government aims to create an agency to manage a potential universal system that would also include a single formulary. The legalization of cannabis that has been at the forefront of the news in recent months has also prompted insurers to adjust the way they manage medical cannabis.

What about the technological advances and new business models, or even the sheer number and rapid pace of these developments? Public interest for genomics, virtual health care, and artificial intelligence are among the many innovations that the insurance industry will have to consider in determining its positioning.

TELUS Health has made advancements in Canada by launching virtual health services aimed at quick and safe access to a healthcare professional. Medisys On-Demand and Babylon by TELUS Health are examples of this. With regard to democratizing access to health information, the personal health record in Alberta is already being used by thousands of people and its implementation is rapidly increasing.

The consumer is at the heart of all these major initiatives. What will the insurance industry do to put the employee, the beneficiary, at the center of its endeavours? This is a tall order for companies that traditionally operate according to a B2B model. Ongoing dialogue and increased advocacy for an interdisciplinary approach are key.

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