World Health Care Congress 2012
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[Introduction by Hampton Pearson, CNBC correspondent.]
Thank you, Hampton. Verizon is pleased to be part of this conversation about a subject of vital importance to us and to the country. We’ve been involved with health IT for many years and are big believers in the power of technology to transform this huge segment of our economy.
It’s now been almost three years since Congress authorized $27 B to fund the transition of electronic medical records, and in that time we’ve seen a tremendous amount of innovation across the whole health care marketplace:
The CDC reports that 57 percent of America’s physicians have now adopted electronic medical records.
Connected medical devices and machine-to-machine communications are beginning to change the interface between the doctor and the patient.
Wireless and broadband networks are evolving rapidly, putting high-speed video capabilities within reach of an increasing number of users.
And we’ve seen a revolution in the behavior of consumers, who have come to expect anytime-anywhere access to everything in their digital lives.
Yet for all of this innovation, technology has yet to truly transform health care as it has other sectors of the economy.
Doctors report that their productivity actually goes down, not up, when technology is introduced because of incompatible systems and frustrating interfaces.
The amount of digitized medical information is rising exponentially, but systems still can’t talk to each other easily, in part because of the licensing and security issues unique to this industry.
Access to quality care is still uneven. While 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas, only 10 percent of doctors serve them, meaning that two-thirds of people in rural areas have to travel more than an hour for medical care.
And maybe the most surprising thing in an anywhere-anytime age is that patients don’t have the seamless connection to their health care systems that technology affords them in every other facet of their lives.
The results: consumers and providers are still frustrated …access to quality care is still unequal … and America’s $2.3 T bill for health care is still rising at an unsustainable rate.
So I believe we’re at an inflection point when it comes to health IT. In order to realize the full disruptive potential of technology, we need holistic approaches to solve these fundamental issues and deliver next-generation health-care experiences to consumers.
We believe Verizon is uniquely positioned to bring safe, secure health IT solutions to the marketplace. What we bring to the table is communications infrastructure that stretches across the entire health care marketplace, from the biggest institution all the way to the consumer and everywhere in between.
We provide the industry’s most advanced wireless and fiber-optic broadband networks to millions of consumers, small businesses and institutions. Our 4G LTE wireless network is extending broadband power across the country. So on any given day, our networks handle these kinds of volumes:
- More than 2 B text messages,
- 1 B phone calls
- 400 M emails
- And 8.7 petabytes of video, so that’s equivalent to 4 M full length movies are flying across our network every day.
Our global IP network operates in more than 150 countries and serves 97 percent of the Fortune 500. We have 500,000 miles of high-speed cables, enough to circle the world more than 20 times. And our networks operate at 100 Gigabit speeds – the fastest in the world. Today we’re planning 5 gigabite networks. [And we believe Patrick has a plan to fill that up].
We’ve invested in an extensive cloud infrastructure and have more than 200 data and cloud computing centers in 20 countries around the world. We have a special expertise in security -- monitoring and acting upon 5 B potential threats to our networks every day.
We also run two Innovation Centers where we work with entrepreneurs to develop mobile devices and applications that run on our 4G network. Much of that innovation is focused on connected devices for the health care market.
We showcased many of these innovations at the Consumer Electronics Show this year – things like a mobile ER for first responders, heart attack detectors for cardiac patients, mobile video for live consultations, wireless sensors that help you check on aging parents, and all kinds of connected biometric devices.
I just so happen to have one of these devices in my pocket. For example, this is a wireless glucometer. This was developed by Genesis Health Technologies, a small company of about 10 people based in Kentucky. So, traditionally when you check your blood sugar, you record your reading in a log and share it with your doctor on your next visit. With the Genesis glucometer, test results are sent over the wireless network to an online portal where you can track, you can graph, and you can share your readings with your doctor or your family immediately so your condition can be managed in real time. Genesis is currently working with the State of Kentucky to deploy this to state employees, and Verizon will be offering it with our own digital health care platform later this year.
We’re focused on health care in a major way. We have a $5 B health care practice that is headed up by Dr. Peter Tippett, who is here in the audience today. Late last year we brought all our wireless and wireline health care solutions into a single organization so that we can understand and approach this market in a more integrated way.
Let me talk briefly about some of the solutions Verizon brings to the marketplace.
Take one straightforward but very costly problem – and that is fraud. That accounts for an astounding 10 percent of health care expenditures. One of the problems is that most fraud prevention consists of trying to recapture money after the bill has been paid. Verizon offers a cloud-based system that uses predictive modeling to detect fraud in the payment system before the claim is paid, potentially saving businesses and government agencies billions of dollars.
Another issue that poses special challenges in health care is security. Ideally, connected health care should work just like our ATM network does today -- providing safe, secure access to information wherever you might be around the world Unfortunately, HIPAA rules and numerous other security and privacy regulations make that difficult. The problem is that until recently there is no universal system for authenticating the identity of patients and doctors in a connected environment.
At Verizon, we’re helping to solve this problem. Starting last year, we began to work with our customers to understand the challenges associated with HIPAA and DEA compliance and have begun to provide universal identity services to physicians working in an electronic environment.
We’re also working with partners to expand health information exchanges. For example, we’re working with one of the country’s largest Blue Cross / Blue Shield networks to implement a health information exchange in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Basically, we provide the platform -- taking clinical data and storing it in our cloud, where it can be securely accessed over the web from any type of device – a laptop, a cell phone, an iPad or any other custom made tablet. These exchanges help bridge the gaps between the various “silos” in today’s system and allow health care providers and patients to communicate securely, confidentally and easily.
With these issues handled at the platform layer, security becomes an enabler of, rather than the impediment to connected health care. More broadly, by fixing these behind-the-scenes issues, we cleared the way to put a new set of tools in the hands of the consumers of health care, which is where the real revolution in the health care paradigm will come from.
Already, we see signs that customers are impatient to use the technology to take control of their own health care. A smartphone is basically a computer for your pocket. Of the 100 M or so smartphone users in the U.S., one-third already use their mobile device to keep track of things like diet and exercise. And if you look at users under the age of 35, that number becomes 60 percent.
These are the early signs of anytime, anywhere health care. If we can harness that pent-up willingness on the part of consumers to manage their own health, we can move the needle on some of the biggest problems in the system today.
Take the issue of chronic care. Chronic conditions affect almost half of all Americans and account for seven out of every 10 deaths, at a cost of $1 T a year. One of the challenges of chronic care is that it doesn’t happen at one place at one time, but rather over a long period of time in homes, offices, doctor’s offices clinics, community centers and hospitals. For example, 95 percent of diabetes care – is done by the patient at home, at work or on the go … not in a doctor’s office.
This is an area where we think Verizon can really make a difference through a range of digital tools that better help people manage their health. For example:
We’re working with the big health insurer Wellpoint on a videoconferencing trial, using the secure capabilities of our 4G LTE wireless network to let people with chronic illnesses use their smartphones and tablets to consult with nurse managers. Early results of these telemedicine trials show that hospitalizations go down and the time between hospitalizations go up thanks to these virtual consultations.
As I mentioned earlier, we’re collaborating on all kinds of medical monitoring devices that can be placed in the patients’ homes to feed constant, real-time data streams to the cloud so physicians can access patient data from a distance. Estimates are that there will be 35 M of these devices in people’s hands by 2015.
Later this year, we’ll be releasing a new suite of digital health care services that can be delivered from the cloud to any connected device. Our initial focus will be on chronic diseases, but the same m-health platform can be used for other things, like wellness and prevention programs.
By putting the consumer of health care in the center of the circle, this new generation of technology delivers what customers have come to expect in every other aspect of their digital lives: reliability, privacy, anytime-anywhere access, and above all, control.
Now Verizon will be a key player in this emerging marketplace, but no one can do this on their own. We’re working with partners across the whole ecosystem – including universities, medical institutions, insurers and technology investors – to test new methods and approaches. And we’ve also focused our foundation, or philanthropic arm, on finding novel ways to use technology to address the needs of underserved and rural markets and raise the standard of care for all Americans.
I’m very pleased to be sharing the stage this morning with Dr. Soon-Shiong – a true visionary in this field. Patrick and I have been discussing the work of his company NantWorks and what they’re doing in the area of m-health, and we think there’s a great opportunity for us to work together. We have a shared goal to develop and scale connected IT solutions, and one of the ideas we’re talking about is using “big data” to improve the treatment of cancer through a comprehensive data base called Cancer Knowledge Action Network.
I am confident that Patrick will have more to say about this, but we are excited about the possibility of working with one of the true innovators in this field on solutions that could revolutionize a big piece of the health care market.
And “Revolution” is not too strong a word for what technology can do for health care – but we need to act with more speed and more urgency to make this happen. Policy makers could accelerate the implementation of health IT dramatically with just a few critical reforms. For example:
Congress needs to authorize Medicare and Medicaid to reimburse for mobile health technologies.
We also need a national licensing framework to enable medical devices and services to be provided across state borders without the fear of increased liability.
And regulators need to insure that their policies foster, rather than stifle innovation and technology advances in health care.
If we get this right, we have the chance to dramatically improve the quality of life, not just in the U.S., but around the world. If you think about it, there are more than 5 B wireless phones in use today around the world. Wireless networks cover more than 85 percent of the world’s population. In less developed countries, they’re more pervasive than roads and electricity.
The World Health Organization has just published a report on the fantastic potential for using these wireless networks to deliver m- and e-health care solutions to the world’s population. They note that, while there are lots of small-scale m-health experiments going on, no one has really solved the security, interoperability and standardization problems that are getting in the way of delivering these vital services in a system-wide, worldwide basis in a secure and interconnected way.
At Verizon we think it’s time to scale up.
We believe in the disruptive power of innovation to transform health care and dramatically improve the quality of life, for America and the world. This is not only one of the world’s great social and moral challenges, but also one of its greatest growth opportunities. We look forward to working with partners across throughout this industry to finally realize the full potential of the health IT revolution.