Today Verizon announced that in January it will issue medical identity credentials to 2.3 million U.S. physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners—absolutely free. These credentials will be able to be used to universally access health IT applications and platforms, such as electronic medical records, e-prescribing services, and HIEs, including the cloud-based Verizon Health Information Exchange.
This was a bold move by the telecom behemoth, one that could put them on the map that’s studded with numerous HIE vendors. According to KLAS’ HIE Performance Report in February, the HIE market is “a mile wide and an inch deep” with few vendors having “risen to the challenge enough times to claim a proven, repeatable model.” I am curious how other HIE vendors that dominate the space—Axolotl, Epic, and Medicity—will counter back with their own “altruistic” initiatives.
I wonder what this will mean for fellow telecom-er AT&T with its Healthcare Community Online (HCO) solution. AT&T plans to offer medical image archive software and security services, as well as managed hosting, storage, security, and consulting services. Earlier this month the company created its ForHealth division to provide health solutions like medicine bottles that remind patients to take pills on schedule and devices that monitor patients' heart levels from home.
John Moore, an IT Analyst at Chilmark Research, notes in a July post that Verizon’s entry into the HIE market was a tepid move at best, when it could have made bigger waves by acquiring an HIE company or finding higher-profile partners. Industry analyst firm IDC reports that the U.S. market for healthcare I.T. solution spending is $33.9 billion in 2010 and is estimated to grow 24 percent over the next four years, so it’s understandable why these companies are wanting to get in the fold. The question now is can they steal market share from the more established vendors, or will we see some consolidation? Whatever the answers will be, I’m sure it will prove exiting.