Verizon Takes On Healthcare Security, Gives Free Credentials To Millions of Providers

Want to know how badly Verizon wants to take a quick leading role in the emerging mHealth business?  Executives are willing to admit right out that the marginal value of using their networks for good ‘ol landline phone calls is effectively gone. Their future lies in solving thorny problems for rapidly evolving verticals like the healthcare industry, it seems.

“Today, the real cost of making a phone call is zero,” said Dr. Peter Tippett, vice president and chief medical information officer for Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions, who spoke to us on the floor of this week’s mHealth Summit exhibit “That’s why we’re becoming a technology (read, network applications and services) company.”

Among the more interesting services pitched by Dr. Tippett and colleagues was Verizon’s Medical Data Exchange, which, if I understood our chat correctly, is an HIE add-0n which they’ve built to be more flexible and secure than the existing HIE models out there.

Unlike HIE systems, MDE doesn’t store patient data, Dr. Tippett explained. It’s Web services platform allowing providers to push both structured and structured information to each other through transcription platforms and the Verizon Healthc are Provider Portal, along with traditional medical records data.

To keep data secure, Verizon supports the exchange through its related Universal Identity Services for Healthcare, which lets providers get digital health data through the MDE using a secure, private inbox accessible through the provider portal. The identity credentials meet HIPAA requirements for HIST level 3 authentication, allowing for e-prescribing of controlled substances or accessing electronic patient data.

To support the MDE play, Verizon has begun issuing free medical identity credentials  to 2.3 million U.S. doctors physician assistants and nurse practitioners. These credentials should meet HITECH standards for strong identity credentials, VZ  says.

But wait, dear readers — I started out this item telling you I’d offer info on Verizon’s mHealth position. Well, at the risk of being cruel,  if it has any front-end apps or middleware to directly support mHealth deployment in play, Dr. Tippett wasn’t discussing them.

Still, to be fair, there’s approximately a gajillion front-end developers, and many many companies capable of creating middleware which can normalize mobile data and fit into the EMR space. (SAP, for example, told us it was all over the problem.)

It will certainly be interesting to see how Verizon fares in a world where brute force network ownership doesn’t impress, but technical know-how and new mobile deployment models do. Hospital leaders, have you seen any signs that Verizon will be a player in your mobile strategies as of yet?

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

2 Comments

  • I think that Verizon needs to better explain exactly what they’re trying to do. We sat in a meeting with our state HIT director while they gave essentially the same pitch you’re relaying. He now seems to believe that the connectivity Verizon offers solves the HIE problem, when connectivity was never really the issue. At some point, someone has to come up with a plan to normalize the data from, using your word, the gajllion apps that will come and go over the next few years.

  • Matt, interesting to hear that you were getting the same pitch. You know, at one point I tried to ask my VZ contact what research they’d done to support the notion that this was a must-have solution. I didn’t get the sense that they’d dug deeply into hospital or physician practice operations to see what would work from the ground up. I think they may end up a bit shocked by the level of traction they (don’t).

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