AT&T* today announced a new practice area and portfolio of specialized services that will harness innovative technology to help improve patient care and reduce medical costs nationwide.
The practice area, called AT&T ForHealthSM, will accelerate delivery of innovative wireless, networked, and cloud-based solutions specifically for the healthcare industry. Examples of healthcare solutions that use AT&T’s technology include:
- Medicine bottles that remind patients to take pills on schedule;
- Devices that monitor patients’ heart levels from the comfort of their homes;
- Audio/video links that can replace the need for an in-person visit to the doctor.
The U.S. market for healthcare I.T. solution spending is $33.9 billion in 2010 and estimated to grow 24% over the next four years, according to IDC, an industry analyst firm.¹ AT&T said it generated approximately $4 billion in revenue from healthcare industry businesses such as hospitals, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, suppliers and physicians in 2009.
Healthcare leaders said AT&T’s focused expansion will usher in many benefits, including reducing costs by eliminating unnecessary medical tests and improving care by enabling providers to transfer electronic health records in a highly secure manner. The American Hospital Association has exclusively endorsed a suite of AT&T services that enable the sharing of health information and applications.
“AT&T’s focused healthcare strategy has put healthcare I.T. innovation on the fast track, benefiting the health of patients across the nation,” said Lac V. Tran, senior vice president and chief information officer and associate dean of Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. Tran is a member of AT&T’s Healthcare Executive Advisory Council, comprised of top healthcare leaders who advise AT&T about innovative products and services that can enhance productivity and improve operations in the healthcare community.
“AT&T continues to make great strides in healthcare,” said Mike Sapien, principal analyst, Enterprise Practice, U.S., at Ovum. “We’re glad to see tangible evidence of Telehealth business through AT&T’s solid platforms to expand advanced and mobile services beyond network and managed services.”
“We believe the healthcare industry is at a ‘tipping point’ for fundamental change that will improve patients' care and lead to better healthcare outcomes,” said John Stankey, President and CEO, AT&T Business Solutions. “Networking solutions, using cloud-based, mobility and telepresence technologies, can help the overall industry deliver better care to people while driving costs out of the system.”
“Today's announcements signal an exciting new era where our technology and smart networks can help improve the quality of care, reduce costs, and contribute to a healthier world,” said Dan Walsh, who was appointed to lead AT&T’s ForHealth practice area. Walsh is a senior vice president at AT&T.
Walsh announced the following services/solutions currently under development:
mHealth Services – AT&T’s mHealth Services are a new set of I.T. solutions for healthcare that combine mobility technologies, devices, connectivity, and applications to help drive down medical costs and deliver improved patient outcomes. AT&T’s mHealth Services will be focused on helping healthcare institutions and patients manage disease, take the appropriate medicine, receive home care, manage weight loss, and monitor wellness programs.
Cloud-based Services – A new set of cloud-based, medical image archive applications and security services which will permit healthcare providers to share clinical data in a highly-secure manner, scaled to handle the huge bandwidth demands driven by live video, images and medical records. Solutions planned to be delivered by AT&T on-demand and “as-a-service” include managed hosting, storage, security and consulting services.
Pilot Programs – AT&T will work with multiple customers to trial healthcare solutions powered by its mobile and networking technologies:
AT&T Labs researchers are collaborating with hospitals and universities on “smart slippers” that wirelessly monitor a patient’s gait to identify pressure signatures. Capturing changes in acceleration and pressure measurements, the sensors could alert caregivers to respond quickly to falls, or possibly help prevent them. A clinical trial testing the networked insole is now underway.
Employee Diabetes Management
On October 13, AT&T and WellDoc® announced a strategic alliance to market and sell WellDoc’s mobile health (mHealth) solution in the United States to facilitate improved patient outcomes and reduce the spiraling costs of managing chronic diseases. AT&T plans to deploy the WellDoc technology through an internal initiative with a select number of employees, using WellDoc DiabetesManager® System in 2011. AT&T will potentially expand to other disease areas (upon U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance) including: heart disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and oncology. AT&T will expand and scale WellDoc’s solution by utilizing AT&T’s mobility expertise, providing application hosting and creating a highly secure infrastructure to host critical health data. Commercially, AT&T will also support the solution with sales and marketing, customer care, provisioning and billing.
Healthcare Community Online – All of AT&T’s planned offers will be available as stand-alone networking solutions or can also be integrated with AT&T’s flagship health information exchange offer, AT&T Healthcare Community Online. This industry leading cloud-based service permits providers within a healthcare system to easily exchange health information and share applications in a highly secure manner. The solution helps to reduce or eliminate duplicate tests and unnecessary costs and enables providers to comply with requirements for use of electronic health records and enhance clinical workflow, ultimately improving the quality of care for patients.
The planned AT&T mobility and cloud-based networking solutions and pilot programs announced today build upon a robust portfolio that includes:
AT&T’s Telehealth Solutions utilize high-definition video and audio conferencing technology to enable patients in rural or under-served areas to consult with medical specialists and even receive examinations in the comfort of their primary physician’s office, community hospital or clinic.
AT&T and Wallace Wireless, Inc. recently announced a healthcare notification and pager replacement solution that can simplify communications within a health care organization by allowing hospitals and healthcare organizations to reach healthcare workers and contractors regardless of the mobile device or carrier they choose.
Automated Pill Bottle Caps
And in March, AT&T announced it will provide wireless connectivity for Vitality GlowCaps, which send visual and audio reminders to patients to remind them to take their medication.
On October 18, the American Hospital Association (AHA) announced it had exclusively endorsed AT&T’s Healthcare Information Exchange (HIE) services, recognizing the strength of AT&T Healthcare Community Online and other voice, data networking and wireless services that AT&T provides to enable healthcare industry participants to easily exchange health information and applications.
AT&T is working with a number of customers to deploy healthcare solutions. Examples include:
- AT&T is providing Houston-based eCardio Diagnostics with machine-to-machine (M2M) wireless data and mobile connectivity for near real-time, remote monitoring of cardiac patients, allowing them to recover at home rather than spend additional time in the hospital.
- AT&T is working with the University of California to create the country’s largest telehealth network. More than 800 facilities throughout California will be linked through the California Telehealth Network by the end of next year.
- West Tennessee Healthcare, one of the largest public, not-for-profit healthcare systems in Tennessee, has recently joined with AT&T to implement AT&T Healthcare Community Online (HCO) throughout the 17 counties the system serves. “We have already made significant progress toward accessing critical patient information from within the hospitals, doctors’ offices and our many affiliated licensed healthcare providers in remote areas throughout our large footprint,” said Jeff Frieling, CIO at West Tennessee Healthcare. ”Accurate and timely data sharing is an enormous challenge for us, but the HCO portal should dramatically improve this situation.”
Learn more information about AT&T ForHealth.
¹ Source: IDC Worldwide Healthcare IT Spending Guide, 2008-2013, Version 2, March 2010