Verizon Offers Collaboration Suite for Health Care

Verizon is rolling out its Telehealth Collaboration Services, which aid health care organizations in setting up online collaboration environments to help physicians connect remotely with patients and other health care professionals. Verizon also will help organizations design and implement the telehealth environments. Other vendors, such as Cisco Systems, also are getting into the telehealth field, which one analyst company says could grow into a $6.1 billion market annually.

Verizon is looking to bring its collaboration capabilities to the health care field.

Verizon on Nov. 23 unveiled its Telehealth Collaboration Services, designed to let health care professionals collaborate remotely via the Internet with patients and other professionals in the field.

Customers also will be able to use the technology for such tasks as medical training and education.

The new offering will enable health care organizations to reduce the time and cost involved with travel as well as let them more easily access underserved and rural areas, Verizon said.

In addition, Verizon Business will offer consulting services to help health care organizations to assess their current situation and determine what is needed to create the telehealth environment. The vendor also will design, implement and support Web and audio conferencing services as well as video technologies, such as desktop Web cameras and high-definition and immersive video.

"Health care providers increasingly are tapping the power of IT, and our telehealth solutions offer an effective way to meet a wide range of challenges, including the expansion of access to care, speeding diagnoses and driving efficiency," Rajeev Kapoor, global managing director for Verizon Connected Healthcare, said in a statement.

Other vendors also are pushing collaboration tools for the health care industry. In July, Cisco Systems announced it was teaming up with UnitedHealth Group to create the Connected Care program, which will tap into Cisco's networking and collaboration capabilities. Key to the plan is Cisco's HealthPresence collaboration platform, which combines audio and visual technologies with medical information to help create an experience for both doctor and patient that is similar to what they'd find with a person-to-person meeting, Cisco officials said.

The health care IT field-the telehealth market in particular-is expected to grow rapidly. Analyst company Datamonitor is expecting annual spending on telehealth hardware, software and related services to grow from $2.4 billion in 2009 to $6.1 billion in 2012.