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Cloud-based Verizon HIE arrives, ready for all takers

Last week Verizon Business, a unit of Verizon Communications, rolled out its cloud-based Verizon health information exchange (HIE), which it is ready to roll out nationwide.

The browser-based Verizon HIE will be accessed via the Secure Sockets Layer protocol. Data will be normalized and stored in a virtualized clinical data repository using Oracle Corp.’s Health Transaction Base (HTB). When used in conjunction with the Oracle Master Patient Index, the HTB will allow for more holistic data analysis, noted Gerard Grundler, managing principal for healthcare IT at Verizon. This will help health care providers identify trends in patient data, such as shared symptoms or common diagnoses.

The Verizon HIE has been developed using Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) standards, which will ease data exchange. (One of Verizon’s primary partners in developing the HIE was MedVirginia Inc., which built its own gateway of sorts to connect its patient records with the NHIN.) Such interoperability can be particularly helpful for physicians, who tend to use multiple electronic health record (EHR) systems, Grundler said. To that end, the telecom intends to approach any and all EHR vendors about integrating with the Verizon HIE.

To date, many technological challenges, including infrastructure, data security and scalability, have stymied the development of HIEs both public and private. Verizon appears ready to address these issues. The company has more than 120 million customers in the U.S. and manages more than 200,000 networks. Moreover, because the Verizon HIE is a browser-based application, end users will not need to upgrade their own hardware. Finally, Grundler said that Verizon has experience protecting data, given that the company’s identity access management technology has been rolled out in 25 countries and is used by the executive branch of the U.S. government.

It should be noted that the Verizon HIE does not represent the company’s first foray into the health care market. Last summer, Verizon Business introduced security management and IT consulting services, with a focus on compliance with such regulations as HIPAA and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI-DSS, through its Verizon Connected Health Care Solutions group.

Ultimately, Verizon does not intend to compete with public health information exchanges, but instead will try to sell its platform to them, Grundler said. Given that Verizon possesses the literal and figurative bandwidth to scale its HIE — and seems to understand the unique needs of health information technology — it sounds like a sales pitch worth heeding.

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