Verizon Expands Foray Into Healthcare

"When most people in healthcare think of Verizon, they think of cell phones," says Dr. Peter Tippett, chief medical officer and vice president, Verizon Innovation Incubator."But we've been putting a big emphasis on healthcare and figuring out the health IT transformation."

Verizon recently introduced Converged Health Management, a remote patient monitoring platform that allows patients to use biometric devices to take health information and transfer the data to a HIPAA-compliant cloud-based server. "The data is then leveraged back to patients through a mobile app or Web portal or back to providers or payers through a web portal or through a tie-in to an electronic health record system or health information exchange," says Dr. Tippett.

"However, it's not enough to just move the information around," he says. Converged Health Management aims to foster deeper patient engagement by providing users with customized clinician-developed health recommendations, a built-in incentive program and a secure and anonymous 'social networking' capability. Providers view patient information through a web portal and are able to intervene when remote readings indicate trouble.

"It's about leveraging the assets Verizon brings to the table, the cloud network and knowledge on how to keep things secure, and do it cost-effectively," says Julie Kling, director of product management for Verizon's mobile health solutions. The platform is network and device agnostic, allowing for adoption at as many healthcare organizations as possible. "The product is white-labeled — it's not about Verizon, it's about making sure providers have the technology in front of them to enable them to deliver care," she says.

The ultimate goal of Verizon's healthcare products is to find and remove impediments to a more rapid and successful adoption of health IT. The presumption has long been that if the healthcare industry can successfully adopt available technological advances, the industry can see the same level of consumer engagement and financial dividends the banking industry has seen, and ultimately see better care at lower costs, says Dr. Tippett. "Despite all of us trying, however, it's not clear what we're doing is working," he says. "The pace of change is not as fast as anyone wants."

Converged Health Management aims to speed the process by facilitating remote monitoring for a full spectrum of patients. "A quarter of people over the age of 20 have prediabetes," says Dr. Tippett. The mobile-friendly platform allows healthcare providers to reach these patients through a medium they use daily to focus on prevention rather than treatment.

Dr. Tippett emphasized the platform has potential for older patients who are less tech-savvy as well. "With this program in place, an older patient 'Betty,' can get a scale when she leaves the hospital to use daily, and a nurse practitioner can call if her weight gets out of range," he says. "And Betty can be my 90-year-old mother who doesn't have a PC, and a care provider will still learn the disease is getting worse."

The new platform expands upon a previous offering of Verizon's. Last year, Verizon launched a platform aimed at enhancing universal identity recognition, and the company's first 10 customers were in healthcare. Converged Health Management builds upon that platform to create a product specifically designed to tackle remote patient monitoring, or in a larger sense, the high prevalence of readmissions that carry a price tag of more than $26 billion for Medicare patients alone, according to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"By having the scale Verizon has, and being able to integrate with different devices and networks, we'll be able to bring data together and help doctors figure out how to best treat patients," says Dr. Tippett.

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