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July 15, 2010

Verizon wants to own the exchange of health information

According to a post by Carl Brooks at SearchCloudComputing, Verizon is making a major push to be the provider of health information exchange services:

The Verizon Health Information Exchange can be used by doctors and healthcare providers to store, manage and transfer patient information, including medical records, test results, medical images and more, all hosted on Verizon’s infrastructure.

The project is nothing if not ambitious. Verizon says it is ready to roll nationwide and can absorb as many electronic medical records (EMR) as are currently out there; there may eventually be one for every person in the United States. It may even offer personal health records (PHR) to its telco customers.

This sort of service seems valuable. In fact, it’s so valuable that it makes me nervous that it would be in the hands of a telecommunications provider. For example, MedVirginia says that “its entire base of patient records will be stored with Verizon and delivered via the cloud.” Are we sure that this vital service should be a company that also sells access to the cloud? Will there be temptations for Verizon to use its ownership of the medical records infrastructure (“store, manage and transfer patient information”) to leverage its position as an access provider, or vice versa? Will medical images in Verizon’s vault arrive faster for Verizon’s ISP customers? Is that what we really want? Wouldn’t it be better for us all to have this service in the hands of someone who has zero interest in how we access that information? And I’m putting all of these as questions because I have vague suspicions but nothing more.

Maybe I’m just especially nervous because today is the last day to leave a comment for the FCC about Net neutrality.