Verizon jumps into med tech with FDA-cleared monitor

Verizon ($VZ) won FDA clearance for a cloud-based remote patient monitor, marking the wireless giant's first dealings with the agency as it further embraces healthcare and gets into the medical device market.

The device, called Converged Health Management, connects to other biometric scanners and monitors, streaming real-time data to Verizon's secure cloud and allowing clinicians to keep tabs on patients from anywhere.

Thanks to its growing health IT business, Verizon already has a HIPAA-ready data-management platform, and, of course, a global network of communications technology, the company said. All that made getting into the mobile patient monitor market a natural next step for Verizon Healthcare, Chief Medical Officer Peter Tippett said.

"Converged Health Management will accelerate focus on care management through mobile technologies as patients increasingly take more responsibility for their health," Tippett said.

But Verizon is hardly guaranteed immediate success in the already competitive world of mobile patient monitoring, no matter its global reach.

In May, the FCC voted to set aside spectrum bandwidth specifically for medical devices, providing a secure, dedicated channel for wireless monitoring devices, and, since then, global giants like GE Healthcare ($GE) and Philips Healthcare ($PHG) have jumped into the fray, looking to capitalize on the market trend Tippett mentioned.

Still, the burgeoning mobile health space isn't without its risks, as payer and regulatory hurdles could slow adoption. Many insurance providers don't cover at-home monitoring for patients who aren't critically ill, analysts have pointed out, and reimbursement policies tend to favor face-to-face consultations. Furthermore, the FDA is under a fair amount of scrutiny to ensure the medical devices it vets are hacker-safe, and that could result in a delay in approval times.

- read Verizon's statement

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