Verizon, Duke to Develop New Health Care Products in the Cloud

Verizon and Duke University are collaborating to develop new ways to connect health care with technology securely in the cloud and on mobile devices.

Verizon and Duke University have announced a partnership that the two parties say will build on cloud computing and mobile technology to change how health care is delivered.

"For every project we've done, it comes back to how do we reconceptualize this so it hasn't been done previously," Kevin Schulman, director of the health sector management program at Duke University, told eWEEK.

Verizon's Connected Health Solutions group will contribute computing infrastructure, staffing and resources for developing new technology, while the Durham, N.C., university will bring researchers, students and project management to the partnership.

Under the multi-year agreement announced Oct. 5, the two organizations will test health care technologies for commercial viability. Duke will establish an internship at the university for students to contribute to the research.

The initiatives will bring better care, expand access and lower cost of treatment, according to Verizon and Duke.

"Our goal is to have a meaningful impact on health care, and from a national policy level, we're focusing on meaningful use and isolation of health technology on the provider level," Schulman said. The project will show how connectivity can lead to achieving health outcomes, he added.

Verizon's cloud infrastructure will play an important role in the project, Sam Bastia, general manager of strategy for Verizon Business, told eWEEK. The telecom company will contribute analytical processing and modeling.

Products may involve home-based medical monitoring of chronic conditions and remote sensors running on Verizon's 4G network, according to Schulman. "The kinds of things you begin to think about are how do you use that scale to build platforms to make meaningful change in health care outcomes," he said.

The devices may be mobile phone-based or connect directly to the network itself, Schulman noted. "You can hang anything you want to off that network," he said.

Security and privacy will be a consideration while building the new health care products, according to Schulman. In fact, the two organizations are looking to transform how security is handled for health care IT.

"What's attracted us to the collaboration is Verizon's understanding of the HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] issues and the data privacy and security issues that come in the health care space that might be different from other spaces," Schulman said.

Verizon recently announced upgrades to its University Identity Services-Healthcare platform to allow secure access to electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchanges (HIEs) on mobile devices.

Dr. Peter Tippett, vice president of Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions and a chief scientist at the company's ICSA Labs division, is a pioneer in the development of antivirus products and computer security.

"The ties between academia and technology companies run long and deep, and this collaboration underscores Verizon's commitment to enabling the transformation of U.S. health care delivery through the common-sense application of health IT," Tippett said in a statement. "Leveraging Duke's renowned research capabilities will help Verizon's technical staff identify and deploy technologies that are needed to advance U.S. health care in a sustainable manner."