Verizon's chief seeks 'higher gear'

Keynote at mHealth Summit focused on gizmos, process

We might as well call this the Gizmo Generation.

As Peter Tippett, chief medical officer and vice president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions sees it, today's healthcare landscape is filled with gizmos, mobile devices that attach to the body or sit inside the home and collect important health and wellness data. That data, in turn, needs to be seen by doctors – but not until it passes through the cloud, is analyzed and sorted and made meaningful.

Verizon wants to handle that data transfer, and the privacy and security processes, and the analysis, so that the whole process is made simple for the patient and caregiver.

[See also: Verizon takes healthcare to the cloud.]

"Healthcare is going to change like the PC revolution changed everything else," said Tippett, who delivered the Tuesday morning keynote at the 2012 mHealth Summit. And that revolution, he said, will only succeed if the impediments to quick and easy transmission of data are overcome.

"We need to find a higher gear," he concluded.

Tippett, who helped create the first anti-virus program, began his talk by pointing out that a recent Institute of Medicine report identified more than $700 billion in savings in today's fractured healthcare landscape if certain processes were improved. Those processes, he said, can be found through IT – and yet healthcare is "dead last" among industries in using cloud computing and IT.

"Part of the reason for that is regulatory overhang," he said.

As mHealth tools and services – or gizmos – are used to "drive healthcare out to the edges," Tippett said, the privacy and security framework in place has to be made as seamless as possible, so that someone could conceivably push a button and immediately get healthcare.

[See also: Verizon Releases Industry-by-Industry Snapshots of Cybercrime.]

"We need to get stronger identity (management), but we need to make it invisible," he said. That means enabling form factors that vary from individual to individual, based on preference, and can be as simple as a phone call or text message – basically, "accepting whatever they have" to prove identity.

And, of course, everything has to be made HIPAA-compliant.

"This is important. We've brought this on ourselves," Tippett said. "We want to be HIPAA compliant."

Tippett was followed on Tuesday morning by two well-known patient advocates, who spoke of the need to expand the mHealth ecosystem to patient advocacy.