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Five questions with John Stratton

By Eric Wicklund, Editor, mHIMSS
John Stratton, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Verizon Wireless, will deliver a 9:30 a.m. keynote address Tuesday in the Potomac Ballroom at the mHealth Summit. Verizon, in its second year as a partnering sponsor for the summit, owns and operates one of the nation's largest 4G and 3G networks and offers a wide array of end-to-end healthcare solutions tied to machine-to-machine technology.

"We are pleased to have Verizon Wireless at the mHealth Summit and happy they have chosen the event as the platform to drive their expansion into the mobile health space," said Richard Scarfo, director of the mHealth Summit at the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, in a press release. "Verizon Wireless places a strong focus on the customer and part of that initiative is to deliver outstanding service products. For healthcare, this means improved quality of care, expanded access and reduced costs. These tenets align perfectly with the mission of the summit."

Stratton recently offered his thoughts on some of the most important issues facing the mHealth community:

Q. Should mHealth be considered a "disruptive technology?" Why or why not?
A. The technology available to healthcare organizations today can help transform the way they engage, interact and share knowledge and information with patients, healthcare providers and others within the healthcare ecosystem.  

Wireless technology, especially applications that run on the 4G LTE network, provides the ability to connect a patient with their clinician for a high-quality virtual visit and eliminates many of the challenges people have accessing healthcare. The bottom line is mHealth enables knowledge sharing and the ability for patients and medical professionals to connect in very effective ways that will ultimately cause a dramatic shift in the healthcare field.
Q. What kind of changes will mHealth make to the healthcare landscape within the coming year?
A. Medical professionals are increasingly mobile and have a quick learning curve in the adoption of smartphones and tablets. They are integrating these devices into their practices to access clinical reference information (and) patient health records and to order tests and procedures. We are also seeing strong growth of connected biometric and fitness devices, which provide persistent monitoring of biometrics and drive better engagement in a person's health.
Verizon Wireless works closely with industry leaders who are developing groundbreaking mobile care management solutions that use 4G LTE technology to mobilize clinicians and aid virtual care.
Q.  What should healthcare executives be doing to adapt mobile technologies to their enterprise?
A. Our recommendation is for healthcare executives to take advantage of the resources such as those offered by Verizon Wireless to analyze their processes and understand how mobile solutions can benefit their organization and improve patient care. Hospital and provider executives must evaluate how they can include mHealth applications into evolving care models like the Patient Centered Medical Home and Accountable Care Organizations.

Similarly, health insurance executives should look at making mHealth solutions and applications available to members as they seek to solidify their relationship with tech savvy and increasingly more informed healthcare consumers.
Q.  How will mHealth change the physician-patient relationship?
A. Mobile solutions will enhance the way physicians and patients interact by providing a simple and persistent care channel with increased visibility to patients' conditions and wellness. mHealth can provide patients with a 360-degree view of their diagnosis, treatment and health maintenance.
Q.  Are there any roadblocks or concerns on the horizon regarding mHealth that healthcare executives should prepare for?
A. Roadblocks provide opportunities, so from a Verizon Wireless perspective we are working daily with experts in the healthcare field to create reliable, convenient, easy-to-use solutions that will aid in the meaningful adoption of mHealth by both providers and patients.
With the advent of high-speed data connectivity, what is currently a key healthcare challenge – providing convenient access to healthcare for people in rural markets and homebound patients – can be transformed by leveraging high speed broadband networks and video capabilities inherent on laptops, smartphones and tablets.
While not a roadblock per se, an increasingly mobile society does play a role in the healthcare discussion.  Patients and healthcare providers may not be in the same town or even the same state and that tears down geographic barriers – which is a good thing.
Finally, as we evolve, the industry will self-adjust and I think we will see those who can provide end-to-end solutions on a nationwide basis will be also be the ones to deliver services more efficiently and economically.

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