Anytime a vendor finds a way to keep me out of a doctor’s office or away from the emergency room all while keeping my costs down, I’m going to blog about it. And that’s what Verizon Enterprise Solutions, www.verizonenterprise.com, unveiled today with the introduction of a new mobile-health solution aimed to provide a convenient, cost-effective way for clinicians to remotely see and assess patients via smartphone, tablet, or computer. Coined Verizon Virtual Visits, the app uses video to connect patients suffering from acute conditions such as colds, sore throats, or the flu with healthcare clinicians and other professionals.
Let’s face facts, healthcare costs have reached a record high and solutions that offer alternative ways to help patients connect with physicians at a reduced rate is certainly going to be embraced by consumers and medical professionals. Research shows $4.4 billion is spent annually on emergency visits for non-urgent routine care and another $151 billion is spent on emergency room visits.
Couple this with the increasing shortage of primary care physicians and consumers are being forced to bear a greater financial burden than ever before. I couldn’t believe it when Verizon revealed that 62 million people don’t have a connection to primary care doctors. That’s just scary. When you think about it, this app can make the difference of millions of dollars of an unproductive workforce.
Christine Izui, Verizon’s quality officer for mobile health solutions, says Verizon Virtual Visits is really for the “working well.” More specifically, she says if I’m really feeling crappy and I don’t want to really wait in a doctor’s office this is the app for me.
She explains it like this, “(Imagine) you’re just feeling horrible and you decide that you really want to see a doctor (but) you’re swamped. You’re working all day today and you just cannot get out of the office and this is your second or third day of feeling horrible…. What am I going to do?’ With Verizon Virtual Visits ….connect with a doctor on a phone or a tablet or a PC.”
Here’s how it works. Verizon Virtual Visits typically takes place through a secure app downloaded to my connected device. There, I can simply log in, answer a set of questions, and then discuss my symptoms and options for treatment with a clinician. If applicable, the healthcare professional can use the platform to send a prescription to the pharmacy closest to my current location. The system has been even set up to facilitate the acceptance of a medical co-pay. The best news of all is that I don’t have to go to an urgent care. In the end, perhaps the app will reduce some overall burdens on these medical locations giving them more time to care for patients remotely.
By leveraging the latest encryption technologies and the company’s HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), Verizon says its solution is an enterprise-class platform for health systems, health plans, and employers to “meet the needs of their specific patient or member population base.” Employers benefit by keeping their employees healthier.
She says, “(Imagine) you’re just feeling horrible and you decide that you really want to see a doctor (but) you’re swamped. You’re working all day today and you just cannot get out of the office and this is your second or third day of feeling horrible. You think, ‘all right, I don’t have time to go sit in the waiting room; I don’t want to go to an emergency room. What am I going to do?’ With Verizon Virtual Visits, what you do is you actually connect with a doctor on your phone or a tablet or a PC.”
The Verizon Virtual Visits is meant for an episodic condition, so this isn’t to treat congestive heart failure or diabetes or something where a patient might have an ongoing prescription. It’s really meant for an incident, such as a flu, upper respiratory infection, or for taking a short-term drug.
Verizon’s ultimate goal with its latest mobile-health offering is to help pave the way for a more efficient healthcare system in the United States. By leveraging the latest encryption technologies and the company’s HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)-enabled cloud, Verizon Virtual Visits offers a new way for employers, employees, and healthcare providers to work together to get sick people in front of those who can help get them well.
I think Rich Black Verizon’s vice president, healthcare practice says it best when he acknowledged there is a shift in how care is delivered in the U.S. As a result Verizon wants to be at the forefront of not only delivering a solution, but one that is secure and reliable. Security will continue to play an ever-increasing role and it’s great to see Verizon leading the charge in providing healthcare solutions to consumers.
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