Author: Medical Tourism Magazine
Peter Tippett, chief medical officer and vice president of the Verizon Innovation Incubator and a keynote presenter at the 6th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress, in Las Vegas, offers his thoughts on the state of mobile communications in healthcare.
How can the telecommunications industry support the goals of medical tourism in providing affordable, quality options for care and treatment?
In order for patients to make informed and confident healthcare decisions that will include global options for care and treatment, the medical tourism industry will need a strong, reliable infrastructure in place for securely exchanging personal health information, connecting remote clinical teams for collaborative care and engaging patients in care compliance through the use of practical technologies. This new generation of healthcare consumers will turn to technology and reliable information streams that empower them to make proactive care choices. They will want secure, mobile, real-time connectivity no matter where they are in the world or from whom they are receiving care and treatment. Likewise, clinical care teams will need remote collaboration tools and information exchange capabilities to enable patients and other coordinating care providers to connect and communicate in real time and at the point of care. Telecommunications infrastructure is a first priority for medical tourism. It will pave the way for anytime, anywhere mobility. And smart mobility will be the driver for global care collaboration.
What do you mean by “smart mobility”?
Mobility refers to reliable connectivity to mobile devices, but smart mobility is the ability to leverage that connectivity to support intuitive platforms and applications. For medical tourism, that means having smart phone or tablet access to solutions that will enable everything from remote video care coordination to secure health record exchange to global telemedicine. But smart mobility for healthcare can’t be built on connectivity alone. Security will be critical to establishing a global health network. Even though regulatory requirements around patient privacy vary globally, people and healthcare organizations will still need assurance that their healthcare encounters, records, and exchanges are truly secure. Consumer confidence in medical tourism will be impacted by the industry’s ability to safeguard patient health information and reassure global healthcare consumers that their health information is as safe outside of their own countries as it is within them. This will be particularly true in courting U.S. customers, who will be accustomed to U.S. privacy and security laws. Information needs to be accessed and exchanged through a healthcare secure cloud, where not only is security centrally managed but where the benefits of scalability, storage, flexibility, and third party service integration can more rapidly shape and advance the global footprint of medical tourism.
What will that reality look like? Can you give an example of an innovative technology that engages a healthcare consumer or provider in a medical tourism context?
Secure connectivity on a global scale will empower patients and clinicians to utilize smart phones and tablets to access mobile applications that will drive tourism decisions, travel logistics, preoperative assessment, postoperative monitoring, virtual care collaboration, and recovery management through remote patient monitoring devices. Consider the way virtual collaboration around a CT scan shared via a healthcare-secure cloud can empower clinical decision-making between two physicians separated by oceans and continents but caring for the same patient. Or how technology can enable a recovering patient in Costa Rica to connect by video to her family and loved ones in the United States, send pictures and updates to her stateside primary care provider, or make arrangements for tourism-related services prior to returning home and provide for virtual-mobile-video follow up after returning home.
What is Verizon’s international strategy for healthcare solutions? Is Verizon already engaged in international healthcare?
Verizon is committed to enabling a healthcare ecosystem where care increasingly becomes an anywhere and everywhere reality. Verizon manages network, communication, security and cloud infrastructure for tens of thousands of companies across more than 150 countries world-wide. As you know, the U.S. has some of the most complex and rigorous regulatory requirements of any healthcare system in the world—HIPAA, EHR certification, Meaningful Use, etc. A great deal of our focus has been on building the infrastructure of a healthcare secure cloud as well as a universal identity management system, converged health management tools, and information exchange solutions that will work well within that regulatory environment. We know that if it can work here, it can be replicated globally, and we have every intention of being out in front when it comes to working with governments and ministers of health in countries who are looking to build the right telecommunications infrastructure to support medical tourism and a global medical network.
Why the Medical Tourism Association®?
We are excited to work with the Medical Tourism Association® to start exploring how to build that global medical network, how to position secure cloud services and the right innovation efforts to meet MTA’s goals for the industry. Medical tourism is an industry segment that connects well to Verizon’s “innovation in action” goals, where strategic relationships with organizations like MTA help us refine our own solution strategies and expand our healthcare footprint. Figuring out how to support a global healthcare ecosystem is an exciting challenge for our innovations and healthcare vertical teams, because we’re committed not just to deploying cool technologies but to really moving the needle on preventable disease, healthcare access, and global health.
Step into the future. What can telecommunication innovation—particularly through Verizon’s partnership with MTA—do to impact global healthcare access, affordability, and quality?
We believe that on the foundation of secure, reliable global connectivity, just about anything can be accomplished in healthcare. Cutting-edge remote monitoring devices have the ability to alert clinicians to trending health issues in real time, reducing clinical response time and averting acute exacerbations and hospital readmissions. Healthcare-secure cloud services will drive real-time information exchange, closing the gaps of space and time that have traditionally inhibited global care collaboration. Intuitive, interactive mobile applications will connect the global patient to better information, open doors (both real and virtual) to care options and treatment choices previously unavailable to them, and connect clinical teams in ways that will help reduce costs, improve care, and drive innovation in healthcare. Where there’s connectivity, there’s collaboration. And where there’s collaboration, there’s great potential for growth accountability and transparency of quality care and service delivery in the industry. That’s why no matter how diverse our solution offerings, platforms and services may be, Verizon will stay centrally focused on the power of connection—connecting people to each other and to information that will ultimately drive greater efficiencies within the system to improve access to more affordable care options.
Peter Tippett, M.D., Ph.D., Verizon Enterprise Solutions. Peter Tippett is the chief medical officer for Verizon Enterprise Solutions’ health IT practice, the company’s practice group that is helping enable the rapidly evolving healthcare ecosystem through the pragmatic adoption of health information technology. In this capacity, he is responsible for creating Verizon’s healthcare strategy and developing a portfolio of solutions to help transform the delivery of patient care, better manage costs, enhance access to medical services, and provide health data privacy. Tippett also leads the Verizon Innovation Incubator, a group which helps Verizon bring to market new innovative services and technologies. Tippett recently received the U.S. Chamber’s First Leadership in Health Care Award for his work to improve transparency and reward innovation through the modernization of the exchange of health information technology. He served on the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (2003-2005) to guide U.S. efforts in healthcare IT and information security. In 2002, InfoWorld recognized Tippett as one of the 25 most influential chief technology officers. He also won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. He was the publisher of Information Security Magazine for its first six years.