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.
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