Health Information Exchange Featured Article

March 05, 2013

Verizon Delivers Secure Data Sharing for Medical Records

Verizon has introduced a service that, for a monthly fee, will allow medical providers to share data and send e-mails or text messages regarding medical records, assuming all shared data meets U.S. privacy standards.

Medical providers can also exchange data over different operating systems and platforms with the secure Verizon service, called the Secure Universal Message Service.

The program consists of two main components. One is a Web portal that anyone from doctors to EMTs can log into to exchange e-mails and texts about patients in their care. The other is an information exchange, allowing hospitals to share data.

The sharing of electronic medical records in the medical industry has faced some obstacles. First, large image files, like X-Rays and MRIs, are traditionally too large to send over e-mail. Second, software providers and hospitals tend to create proprietary solutions that don’t communicate with other medical facilities.

“The vast majority of stuff shared by providers ends up not digitizable and it’s a huge pain,” Peter Tippett, Verizon’s chief medical officer, told Bloomberg. “There’s huge savings in this. There’s a huge easing of access and care.”

In 2010, Verizon created a cloud-based Health Information Exchange service that allowed doctors and hospitals to upload medical records, have them digitized into a standard format and then to share them with other providers.

The Secure Universal Message Service builds on that previous offering by the option to share data through e-mails and text messages. Verizon also promises near real-time record access even if providers are out-of-network or out-of-state.

Google tried to enter into the health information exchange business at the same time Verizon did in 2010, with an offering called Google Health. But the company quietly did away with the campaign in early 2013.

One of the key plusses of the Verizon program, according to one beta tester in South Dakota, is the e-mail interface.

“Everyone knows how to use email,” Donald Kosiak, the e-care medical director for Avera Health in South Dakota, told Forbes.

“The Verizon brand gives us the confidence to know that we have a large-scale technology partner that transcends the business-as-usual models and bureaucracies typically designed to protect legacy IT vendors.”

Edited by Braden Becker