Verizon debuts platform to increase medical care access

Virtual Visits allows patients to connect with a doctor via a computer or mobile device

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
June 25, 2014
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Not to get too graphic with you here, but I've had this thing on my chest for like a week or two, and I really should go get checked out. The only problem is that I just haven't had the time. I know that's a terrible excuse, but its true. Going to the doctor will take hours, with the waiting and the more waiting and the even further waiting after that. Whose got the time?

Thankfully, Verizon is coming to the rescue.

The mobile carrier announced a new service on Wednesday called Verizon Virtual Visits, and it is exactly what the name suggests: its which way for patients to be seen remotely by a doctor via a smartphone, tablet or computer.

It works by allowing patients to connect online with a doctor through a secure app. Once they log in, the patient has to answer a series of health-related questions, which is then followed by a discussion with a doctor. The patient is evaluated and the doctor provides an appropriate care plan.

Doctors will also be able to use the platform to electronically send a prescription to the pharmacy of the patient's choosing, in place where that is legal.

Verizon says that any data that is shared between the doctor and the patient is "encrypted during the online visit, as well as afterward when the data is stored in Verizon's HIPAA-enabled Cloud."

"Verizon Virtual Visits joins the company's mobile health solutions portfolio and is an illustration of its corporate strategy to deliver converged solutions that leverage the company's extensive mobility, cloud and security assets, and its technical and consumer engagement expertise to address big societal challenges," said Verizon.

This seems like a really cool service, and one that could really cut down on the time, and cost, of seeing a doctor. That being said, Verizon is leaving out some key details, including how much will each visit cost. The company does not say how users be billed, either through the mail or directly to their phone bills.

Verizon also does not currently say how many doctors have signed up so far, if any at all, and what cities it is available in currently.

Most importantly, though, is whether or not Virtual Visits will be available to everyone, or just those who use Verizon. According to VentureBeat, the service is "completely carrier agnostic," meaning that any carrier, including AT&T and Sprint, can also offer the app. The platform will be offered to healthcare providers, health plans, and employers, who will then "offer apps powered by the technology to their clients."

VatorNews has reached out to Verizon to get answers to these questions, but the company was not available for comment. We will update if we learn more.

 Check out this video from Verizon about the service: