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From healthcare to agriculture

How TELUS is applying lessons we learned in one space to inform solutions in another.

The agricultural opportunity

As the global population grows, so will the need to increase food production by as much as 70% by 2050.* Technological innovations will drive much of that increase, yet critical questions remain. How can we sustainably achieve such a massive yield increase? And how can we best manage increasing food waste while protecting our health and the health of the planet? 

Evolving consumer preferences and increased public scrutiny also impact food production. A shift toward organic and sustainable farming, antibiotic use limits, and increased traceability requirements involving complex digitization and data management are shaping the future of agriculture. 

What do doctors and farmers have in common?

Like physicians, farmers and ranchers are considered fundamental to society, defined more by what they do than who they are. Similarly, they are often both highly specialized and ‘jack-of-all-trade’ small business owners who rapidly adapt to emerging technologies, from software-driven machinery to data-driven management. Both professions are also chemistry driven, with similar research and development pathways, are subject to significant regulatory approval processes, and require large-scale investments. 

Like physicians, farmers and ranchers have historically struggled to digitize and streamline their operations. They also routinely face massive reporting requirements (paperwork!) while adopting cutting edge technologies to stay relevant. 

Like healthcare, agriculture’s value chain requires greater end-to-end coordination to improve outputs. Current siloed approaches to data management lack a normalized structure, producing plenty of information but not a lot of real value for producers. The Agriculture sector also faces additional challenges like uneven rural connectivity.

Learnings from a decade of digitizing healthcare

TELUS Health boasts hard-won learnings that are equally applicable to the agriculture sector, including:

  • Digitizing the value chain. End-to-end digitization expedites information and workflow. Like doctors, agricultural producers also need to solve problems quickly and efficiently while seeing measurable results.

  • Secure, efficient and collaborative data management. Like healthcare professionals, agricultural producers want to spend less time and effort on paperwork in favour of more effective and secure data management, along with a collaborative approach to accessing, sharing and analyzing it. 

  • Broad industry alignment. As in healthcare, ownership and access shouldn’t reside only with one significant player in the value chain. Efficiencies must also be created industry-wide to avoid monopolies, including alignment across industries – from railways to telecommunications. Real innovation in the agricultural sector will emerge from this foundation, as was the case with TELUS Health applications like Babylon. 

As we work toward optimizing the Agri-Food industry’s value chain and progress toward more collaborative industry alignment, TELUS Agriculture, like TELUS Health before it, will help create more efficient, secure and sustainable solutions that will benefit us all.

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*FAO in the 21st Century: Ensuring Food Security in a Changing World. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2011.