ORLANDO, Fla. – “Our focus is on mobilizing healthcare on all levels.” Mike Ross, VP of sales in the healthcare retail sector at Verizon Wireless told RCR Wireless News.
Like its competitors, Verizon Wireless is leveraging many aspects of its core business and developing new strategies to target the healthcare vertical. “It really is a wide open space,” Ross said.
There’s a significant machine-to-machine component in this space and Verizon is working to bring more of these devices onto its network. The carrier is striking partnerships with vendors that can help it deliver what healthcare providers and medical professionals need.
On average, Verizon Wireless is announcing five to 10 new partners across all verticals every quarter. The healthcare unit typically brings on one or two partners each quarter.
The operator counts around 2,000 employees working on the healthcare vertical across its wireless and enterprise business. And Verizon has 100,000 customers in healthcare today.
“We are significantly structured to manage the healthcare space,” Ross said. “We are top to bottom.”
Ross has been working on Verizon’s healthcare team for a little more than a year now and he came away from last week’s HIMSS conference with a lot more energy and optimism.
Last year he felt there was too much focus on “why not” and “now there’s a lot more how going on,” he said. “We’re really at that point of breaking through.”
During the conference, Ross had some time to meet with doctors and was encouraged by how open and interested they are in the mobile opportunity. “The clinicians and doctors are stepping up,” he said.
Verizon doesn’t want to only be the network in this vertical, it wants to go deeper into remote monitoring, tele-health, M2M and health information exchange. It’s also relying on these deals to leverage various areas of expertise and identify ways to take some of the cost and complexity out of daily operations within healthcare.
“We’re looking to partner with the companies that really have a track record here,” Ross said, adding that history and credibility are incredibly important in this space.
Of course, Verizon has a lot to prove before it hits full stride. To get mass adoption from a clinical perspective, the tools and services that Verizon provides have to be easy and they all have to be connected.
“Healthcare needs to see some of these solutions get proven,” Ross said. “Our focus is connected healthcare end to end.”
For example, the inherent value in tele-monitoring is obvious, but it can also be more challenging than it’s worth. Anything that creates confusion and complexity rather than simplification is going to be a tough sell to any doctor or clinician.
“You’ll start to see the results that we all know are out there in the clinical care area,” he said. “We’re going to have to find models that get to the core of cutting costs.”
Take remote monitoring alone and consider why insurance companies and hospitals will eventually come up with a new reimbursable model. One return visit to the hospital can pay for the cost of a remote monitoring device and service for a couple years, according to Ross.
Indeed, remote monitoring is one of the lead pieces in healthcare mobility because it can quickly reduce costs and improve the quality of life for patients.
During HIMSS, Verizon announced a new partner in Zipit Wireless, which operates a two-way paging system for healthcare professionals. The goal and reach of the new messaging platform and its unique devices is to enhance capabilities not found in typical paging systems and let users know when a message has been sent, delivered and read by the intended recipients.