NEW YORK - Verizon Communications Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg has committed the company's support to four goals proposed by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to improve health care quality and reduce costs through increased use of technology and providing more information to consumers.
Leavitt recently asked private employers, a major source of health insurance coverage in America, to support four cornerstone goals aimed at improving the quality of care and lowering costs:
- Adopting standards for connecting health information technology, making it possible to share patient health information securely and seamlessly among health care providers.
- Adopting quality-of-care reporting so that health care providers as well as the public can learn how well each provider measures up in delivering care.
- Providing costs of health services in advance, so that when patients choose routine and elective care, they can make comparisons on the basis of both quality and how much of the total cost they will have to pay under their health plan.
- Providing incentives for quality care at competitive prices, as in payments to providers based on the quality of their services, or insurance options that reward consumers for choosing on the basis of quality and cost.
"The secretary's efforts and the participation of the business community are essential to solving the health care crisis, because they bring together the purchasing power of the public and private sectors to move this important initiative forward," Seidenberg said. "These four goals are not a panacea. But they are necessary steps to help the health care industry catch up to the innovations in technology and competition that have empowered consumers and increased the efficacy, value and efficiency of products and services in so many other areas."
One example of how technology can help make the delivery of health care more efficient and cost-effective is the Children's National Medical Center in Washington. The center uses Verizon's fiber network to transmit electrocardiograms from anywhere in the United States to the homes of the center's neonatal cardiologists.
Seidenberg served as a member of the Federal Commission on Systemic Interoperability, a group of medical, insurance, governmental, technological and corporate leaders tasked by Congress to develop recommendations and a timeline for the adoption of privacy-protected systems of electronic health information.
Verizon -- which has long been an advocate of a "consumer-centric" approach and using information technology to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of the U.S. health care system -- has already begun to adopt the Health and Human Services secretary's four goals.
Earlier this year, Verizon implemented a series of interactive online resources to empower the company's employees to make informed health care choices. Employees can create their own personalized health records, and will be able to obtain a portable record of their own medical history, with claims information, test results and prescriptions - all in one easy-to-access, private and secure location.
Verizon was also a founding member of pay-for-performance programs Bridges to Excellence and Leapfrog, which reward providers and hospitals for quality care and health information technology implementation
In 2005 alone, Verizon spent $3.4 billion to provide health care for more than 900,000 employees, dependents and retirees. Although the company's health care costs are below the national average, they have increased 28 percent over the last three years.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), a New York-based Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 57 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which operates one of the most expansive wholly-owned global IP networks, and Verizon Telecom, which is deploying the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network to deliver the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services to customers. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.