Posted by: AtlasMD

December 13, 2013

Is Health Care In One Place The Right Place?

After reading this post about the rollout of Verizon’s Converged Health Management platform, we started thinking about centralized healthcare data. If you guessed that we’re conflicted about it, then you know us well.

Med City News claims, “All-encompassing patient engagement solutions are inevitable.” But current concerns over health IT regulations and healthcare reform are apparently delaying implementation.

“Industry trends that are in the works are putting a burden on our customers,” said Julie Kling, Verizon’s director of product management, mobile health solutions. “Healthcare reform is having an impact.”

The irony of the new federal mandate is that it will ALWAYS have an immediate impact on EVERYTHING. Why? It’s kind of like that Schrodinger’s Cat analogy, the one where the cat is both dead and alive in the box (to represent the idea of quantum states of atoms). With Obamacare, you either will or won’t be affected by it, but since no one actually knows ALL about the law, you are left to react as though you will be affected. In the end, everyone’s on their heels.

According to Med City News, “Verizon’s health management platform is meant to be all encompassing and leverage its mobile and high-tech capabilities. The platform collects data from wireless medical devices and sends it securely to the cloud.” Supposedly this will predict worrisome health trends based off the data, and employ “gamification” by rewarding patients who use the system and hit health goals. The platform is FDA approved. Verizon believes this will give it a strong advantage over competitors.

Now all they have to do is sell it. However, Kling said that in addition to Obamacare, the adoption of the ICD-10 standards remain all-encompassing challenges.

“One of the things I’m noticing that we wouldn’t have anticipated is that the industry is quite overwhelmed with change,” she said of the challenges of finding buy-in for the product. “That has to be taken into consideration.”

Verizon’s healthcare platform is meant to be iterated off of. At the moment, Kling said: “Anyone taking risk in healthcare is who we want to talk to.”

At the risk of being Luddite, we’re going to admit that we don’t actually know what we’re iterating off with this Verizon platform. They have a glossy website about all of the possibilities that emerge from big data and telecommunications. However, we can’t help but point out that while we’re stringent capitalists, we’re also staunch individualists. Part of the problem that we’re fighting, as a small business, is the lack of personal concern that’s tainted primary care. We’re glad to promote big ideas like Verizon’s platform, so long as they show us how this will empower doctors to thrive as doctors, not bureaucratic game players.

Think of it like this — if we create a world where ALL data is centrally located, healthcare could face a new set of problems. It won’t be insurance companies clouding prices and dictating the decisions, it could become technology itself. We like making money, and we like people motivated to make money. However, we also have an ethics in service. We want to be paid for actual service rendered. In the case of large telecommunications companies controlling healthcare data — are they in the business to facilitate patient-doctor relationship, or making a power play so they can scrape pennies off of countless interactions? If the latter, then we might end up with the same problem, a system that turns doctors into hamsters.