If you are a digital health entrepreneur, it can’t be good news that Verizon, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, has entered the healthcare market with a second FDA-cleared digital health product.
According to MedCity News, Verizon’s enterprise solutions division just announced its Converged Health Management platform after receiving FDA 510(k) marketing clearance in August.
The Converged Health Management platform will be marketed as a “B2B to C” product. Verizon says it will be white-labeled, meaning it will be sold to providers like hospitals and healthcare systems, payers, and large self-insured corporations and then marketed to consumers under the brands of the healthcare systems, etc.
Verizon also has an e-prescribing platform already on the market being sold in a similar way. That product is in use and growing rapidly. According to Dr. Peter Tippet, Verizon’s chief medical officer, the e-prescription platform has already transacted 40 million prescriptions this year. He also said that the e-prescription volume is doubling every 6 months, an impressive growth rate.
Verizon’s Converged Health Management platform will collect data from wireless medical devices – initially four types of devices: a blood pressure cuff, a scale, pulse oximeters and blood glucose meters. The data is sent automatically to cloud servers that are secure and HIPAA-compliant.
The patient can connect to the wireless medical devices with a smartphone, tablet, or PC. That’s important because they can be mobile and maintain their preferred lifestyles while remaining connected to the Verizon healthcare cloud.
Verizon has built algorithms into the platform to keep watch for patient health trends. Doctors can use the capabilities of real-time data access and two-way communications to express concerns or send reminders directly to the patient.
According to Verizon, the platform has been designed to work with or without biometric data. When used without real-time data, the platform can be used to manage chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease. It also has the ability to provide patients with a reward and even has elements of gamification. They seem to have anticipated a broad range of conditions and healthcare scenarios.
Additionally, Verizon implied that the platform will eventually connect to personal wellness devices like the trendy Fitbit and Jawbone products. According to the MedCity News article, Verizon purposely focused on achieving FDA clearance for the platform’s treatment capability first, reasoning that a treatment indication was more challenging to receive regulatory clearance than a wellness indication would be. Next step will be to get the platform cleared for wellness applications.
Verizon seems to be open to external apps running on its platform. Hospitals and device companies could find this to be valuable real estate.
The platform seems to be highly configurable and flexible to accommodate a broad range of customer and user preferences. Verizon really did its homework in product development.
Takeaways: The digital health market is a land grab scenario right now. Big companies like Verizon have the resources and market heft to occupy a large portion of the land. Medical device companies developing digital health products or startups with a single digital health offering in development must be nimble, flexible, and move quickly. It would also be prudent to approach Verizon and its big customers to find out if you can get your product into their platform ecosystem.