Will Verizon Be Monitoring Patients?

Regulatory Thursday Word Picture

Home health care continues to expand as payors require more monitoring of patients after they leave the doctor’s office or hospital.  Verizon is expanding into the home health industry by offering a cloud-based solution to allow doctors and other healthcare providers to communicate with patients in their homes.  Verizon’s Converged Health Management device also allows the clinician to review various biometric devices in the patient’s home.  Will this help provide quality care?  Will it help decrease readmissions?  Verizon thinks so.

“Verizon is committed to improving the dynamics of the U.S. healthcare system,” said Peter Tippett, chief medical officer and vice president of Verizon Innovation Incubator, in a press release. “By leveraging our mobile health expertise, HIPAA-ready cloud, 4G LTE wireless network and leading security solutions, Verizon is uniquely positioned to drive innovation in healthcare. Converged Health Management will accelerate focus on care management through mobile technologies as patients increasingly take more responsibility for their health.  ‘Verizon continues to invest in transformational technologies that address some of the nation’s biggest challenges in healthcare,’ Tippett added.

Verizon has long been invested in the mHealth/telehealth space, and recently launched an ambitious program through the Verizon Foundation to provide mHealth access and services to underserved populations across the country. This latest news marks the first time the company has sought FDA approval for a healthcare solution, and places it in the midst of a fast-growing home healthcare industry.”

Government HealthIT, August 9, 2013

As healthcare providers continue to expand their services with medical centered homes, electronic medical records and other communication devices, home care services become the focus of many of these activities.  After all, the patient spends much more time at home than in the hospital or the doctor’s office.

All of these new devices have pros and cons.  The patient will benefit as the doctor can more easily communicate with the patient without the need for transportation or a lengthy doctor appointment.  However, this only works if the home health products are easy for the patient to use and very reliable.  Will the patient and the patient’s family be able to utilize this sophisticated device?

Verizon’s device is supposed to sync with other health devices such has glucose monitors, blood pressure devices, pulse oximeters and scales.  Will the patient be able to connect these devices without assistance.  Many patients don’t have the necessary connection to make these devices work.

Further, Verizon makes it clear that this device is not meant to replace the doctor nor to provide a diagnosis.  However, with this information in the home, will patients wait to call the doctor when the blood pressure reading is within normal range?  There are many issues left to resolve.  Most doctors and healthcare practitioners think we have a long way to go.

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