Look out, wellness entrepreneurs. Selling your patient engagement solution to doctors and employers just got a lot more challenging.
Verizon announced the Converged Health Management platform today. This white-label solution covers the entire process of patient engagement. It can collect data from wireless medical devices and send it securely to the cloud. Algorithms look for worrisome health trends and doctors can also use the platform to communicate action items back to the patient. Real-time data could shape messages like, “Your weight is up a little, are you taking your water pill?” or “Your blood sugar has been high all week, do you have time for a quick call with the nurse today?”
The enterprise solutions branch of the company just got approval from the FDA in August, so no one has put the system to the test yet. However, the company’s track record with its electronic prescribing platform means it has already seen and solved most data transfer and security problems.
“We crossed through 40 million e-prescriptions this year, and we’re finding that the volume is doubling every 6 months,” Dr. Peter Tippet, Verizon’s chief medical officer, said. “Most people don’t know they are using our system because it’s not branded.”
I spoke with Tippett and Julie Kling, RN and mHealth expert, earlier this week about the new service which will also be white-labeled. The target customer for the B2B to C service is hospitals, payers, and big employers. Kling said that right now the platform can collect data from four types devices: blood pressure cuff, a scale, pulse oximeters and blood glucose meters.
“The platform can be used without the biometric component as well, for something like managing Crohn’s disease with a reward or gamification element,” Kling said.
Tippett said that this new platform could help the entire app community by allowing payers and hospitals to incorporate existing apps into the Converged Health Management system without going through the FDA approval process.
“We could get them the data in a format that that would avoid the FDA work,” he said.
Tippett said that the FDA is harder on treatment platforms than on wellness platforms, so Verizon decided to start with the hard part. He said that platform can handle over data from about 80 devices, and that the company is working through a list of FDA filings to get more devices added to the system.
Kling said that personal trackers like FitBit and Jawbone can’t feed data into the system — yet.
Customers can design the system to fit their patients and current level of technical sophistication.
“Some people love the portal that is part of our platform and others want the data to go to their own existing portal,” Tippett said. “Also the data can be stored in the cloud to be used by doctors and hospitals or it can go straight to patients via web site services or apps.”
The platform also supports a variety of engagement methods: social networks, phone calls, coupons, rewards. Verizon illustrates the platforms capabilities in this video. The platform will work on any network, not just those powered by Verizon.
“An employer could set up a private social network for all the diabetics in the company,” Tippett said.
Kling said that the flexibility of the system will allow customers of all sizes to use it.
“The platform is designed to let customers build educational programs based on the challenges they have,” Kling said. “It’s up to the client to pick the plan for engagement, such as patients with heart failure.”
Verizon now offers hosting, HIPAA-compliant cloud storage and with this latest launch, the tools to collect patient data, analyze it and help patients and doctors use it to influence behavior. Throw in the regulatory savvy and enough money for years of FDA approval process and you’ve got an almost unbeatable competitor. Now that startups have paved the way by illustrating the need to collect and analyze this kind of data, Verizon is stepping in with a complete solution to do so.