Verizon Brings Electronic Medical Records to the Cloud

Verizon's Health Information Exchange allows health care providers to share electronic medical records in a standard format. Verizon's platform also conforms to federal meaningful use guidelines for health care IT and EMRs.

Verizon Business, a division of Verizon Communications, plans to simplify management of electronic medical records by offering a cloud platform to store patient records in a standard format.

The Verizon Health Information Exchange, announced July 14, will be able to translate data from 14 to 18 major health care standards using the Oracle Healthcare Transaction Base application, Gerard Grundler, Verizon's managing principal for Health Information Exchange Services, told eWEEK.

"The translation engine that we have incorporated into our solution is capable of consuming and translating all that data into meaningful, normalized data in the clinical data repository," Grundler said. "Once you're capable of doing that we now can apply configurable semantics to that data, which is really what empowers some of that search capability and empowers us to make diagnoses using different nomenclature ... across a broad, disparate area."

Medfx and MedVirginia also contributed technology to the project, he said.

Grundler stressed that the exchange is a "zero-footprint interface," with no traces of private data left behind after a session. The cloud-based application is designed to help lessen the number of medical errors and reduce duplicative testing as well as control administrative costs.

According to Verizon, the service will enhance patient safety because doctors will be able to carry out necessary procedures sooner rather than waiting for data to be translated from different standards. Using the secure Web portal, health care providers and patients will be able to access a consolidated health record at the point of care, according to the company.

Verizon's announcement came a day after the Obama administration released new guidelines on meaningful use of EMRs and how clinicians can access federal stimulus money allotted for EMRs. Under the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act, health care professionals and hospitals may qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentives when they adopt certified EMR technology according to government-specified objectives.

Verizon plans to fund the cloud exchange through these government subsidies.

Components of the service include secure messaging among health care providers, a caregiver-focused Web dashboard, a record-locator service and a cross-enterprise patient index.

The Health Information Exchange is the latest in a series of health care initiatives for Verizon. In March, the company launched its Medical Data Exchange to allow clinicians to share physician-dictated patient notes digitally, and in November it introduced Telehealth Collaboration Services, a group of services that provides medical training and enables patients and providers to consult with each other online.

Greater access to patient records brings concerns about privacy, and Verizon says the exchange complies with the regulations of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and the Nationwide Health Information Network, a standards body run by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

In May, Verizon outlined its cloud strategy for secure connectivity to data online. The company expects to start migrating customers to the Health Information Exchange in August.