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Summary:

Verizon Business has created a service to store medical records online in a manner accessible to patients, physicians and insurers. This comes a day after the Obama administration made it easier for doctors to access $27 billion in incentives for online medical records.

Verizon Business has created a service to store patient medical records online in a manner accessible to patients, physicians and insurers. The Verizon Health Information Exchange takes a doctor’s records, standardizes the information and can deliver that information to physicians or hospitals around the country via a secure web portal.

Verizon’s not the only company to see potential gold in medicine. Google has a similar pilot project that I wrote about in 2008, and other technology firms such as Intel, Cisco and Microsoft are hoping that both doctors and patients will become more comfortable integrating technology and broadband into medical care. As part of a push to put medical records online, the Obama administration yesterday made it easier for doctors to access incentive programs that could result in $27 billion in spending over the next 10 years.

Patients would benefit as well, as long as medical records remain private — not just from folks looking to nab some social security numbers, but also from companies looking to market to people with medical conditions and discriminate against them on the basis of their health. About a year ago when my daughter broker her leg, I wrote about the experience, noting that I had to carry her X-rays around with me on a DVD and hope that the doctors I visited were able to read the data.

Solutions, such as the one Verizon and Google are offering might help eliminate some of those problems, although I imagine the turnaround time on uploading those images to the Verizon cloud and then seeing them on the ER computer would be longer than the 30-minute drive. Plus, we’d have to have better connectivity at the hospitals and doctors’ offices in order to shunt the terabytes of medical data around the network.

But by delivering what is essentially medical records as a service for hospitals and physicians, Verizon is not only trying to get a chunk of federal money, but also trying to provide the type of cloud service that will fill up its networks. Verizon isn’t using it’s actual cloud computing infrastructure, however, to host the exchange because the multi-tenant nature of the cloud service violates privacy and HIPAA regulations. Other telecom providers are getting into medical records storage as well, with Spain’s Telefonica announcing yesterday that it has created a new business unit focused on e-health solutions.

Related GigaOM Pro Content (sub req’d): When it Comes to Pain at the Pipe, Upstream Is the New Downstream

  1. “Verizon isn’t using it’s actual cloud computing infrastructure, however, to host the exchange because the multi-tenant nature of the cloud service violates privacy and HIPAA regulations.”

    As someone that has actually managed IT and software development in the healthcare industry for many years and navigated all sorts of regulatory hurdles, I think you are wrong on this point. HIPAA is not even remotely technically prescriptive, certainly nothing that would allow you to make these sorts of bold assertions and I’m aware of no other privacy regulation in the US that would make this illegal. Furthermore, multi-tenancy is not inherently insecure, particularly not if designed for security. Your bank, for instance, stores your transactions in the same database tables even as many other customers and yet offers a level of security greater than almost any on-site EMR system at a physicians office or hospital. Likewise, millions of EDI transactions containing PHI are transmitted over the internet and used in massively multi-tenant configurations routinely for years (see WebMD, Zirmed, etc)…. about all HIPAA has to say on the matter is that it uses some form of encryption.

    You are hardly to first, but I’ve seen too many people blindly repeat these sorts of claims without doing any research of their own (of course, self-interested vendors, consultants, and others promote mis-information to peddle their wares).

    FYI-The greater privacy issue, to my mind, is having vast quantities of PHI available online in a commonly accessible (mono-culture technology/access methods) and trying to balance ease of access by multiple clinicians with tight security. These are not inherently insurmountable obstacles and, further, would probably be best managed in a few (read: multi-tenancy) systems, where they can be stored in proper secure datacenters with full-time professionals, versus tens of thousands of separate systems staffed by consultants, part-timers and IT generalists in backoffices around the country.

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    1. I asked Verizon if HiPAA was the reason it wasn’t hosted on its cloud. It told me that it ran this service on dedicated infrastructure because the multi-tenant nature of the cloud service violates privacy and HIPAA regulations.

      So if this is wrong (I am not a HiPAA expert nor a sys admin) then Verizon is wrong, although perhaps there are other reasons that it decided to host this service in the manner it has, that it didn’t want to explain, and so it used HIPAA as an excuse.

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  2. [...] GigaOM Categories : Business, Cloud [...]

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  3. [...] Verizon Prescribes the Cloud for Medical Records [...]

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  4. [...] Healthcare Debate: Data Privacy and SecurityHuffington Post (blog)PR Newswire (press release) -GigaOm (blog) -CMIOall 43 news [...]

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  5. Once we get physicians onboard with the idea of Practice Portability, which means moving medicine into the cloud, the stage will finally be set for the modernization of physicians practices and the industry as a whole. It’s great to see such big players like Verizon and Google, among others, making big investments in the field to really drive some innovation in healthcare.

    Alexander Lopez
    blog.carecloud.com

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  6. Once we get physicians onboard with the idea of Practice Portability, which means moving medicine into the cloud, the stage will finally be set for the modernization of physicians practices and the industry as a whole. It’s great to see such big players like Verizon and Google, among others, making big investments in the field to really drive some innovation in healthcare.

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  7. [...] size of this potential market, vendors are rushing to bring EHR solutions to market. Last month, we covered one offering from Verizon, and Google has a similar pilot project it began in 2008. And last [...]

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  8. [...] iOS, etc.) are major players in the mobile technology segment, they are not as important to healthcare research as the cloud. Access to medical information online is driving medical uses since it can provide global access to [...]

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