Verizon, NCOA Partner to Improve Health for Independent Seniors with Chronic Conditions

| January 29, 2013

Some of the nation’s most well-recognized network providers are staying relevant by moving well beyond standard Internet, television, and voice communication services and exploring new business lines—including those related to the growing senior care industry.

When most people think of Verizon, what comes to mind is probably the company’s wireless services’ “Can you hear me now? Good” and “The Nation’s Most Reliable Network” slogans, but Verizon Communications Inc. has diversified into multiple divisions, including the rapidly expanding health and wellness space that has major ties to senior living. 

The Verizon Foundation recently joined the National Council on Aging to support its work to improve the health and independence of older adults with multiple chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Chronic diseases comprise the fastest-growing portion of the nation’s healthcare costs. Nearly 90% of seniors have at least one chronic condition, while two-thirds have two or more. Helping these individuals to better manage their own health can lead to lower healthcare costs and a better quality of life, research shows.

NCOA will work with Verizon to develop “innovative approaches and technology platforms to better integrate the array of healthcare and community services that patients with multiple chronic conditions often need,” said Richard Birkel, senior vice president of healthy aging at NCOA, in a statement. 

The Verizon Foundation’s recently-announced new program strategy is to reduce healthcare disparities, improve quality and access to care, and empower patients in need with better chronic disease management programs. The foundation is forming collaborative partnerships with national healthcare nonprofits with a focus on integrating health information technology (HIT) solutions from Verizon Enterprise Solutions. 

The foundation is planning to invest nearly $13 million in grants and in-kind technology to fund these nonprofit healthcare organizations with new HITs.

Another business division, Verizon Enhanced Communities, deploys Verizon FiOS into multi-family communities, including senior living residences where it can host third-part senior care technology systems.

“Verizon has large commitment to bringing technology to the health and wellness space,” says Mike Weston, director of marking operations at Verizon Enhanced Communities, citing the nation’s rapidly growing senior population.

There’s “growth opportunity” in health and wellness technology where the company can add value, he says, and Verizon Wireless is “very active” in its involvement, although the method isn’t to build proprietary platforms.
 
“We identify and work with ‘best in class’ partners, if they have great ideas and contributions to make in terms of products and services that ride on our network,” says Weston. 
 
Such was the case with The Virginian, a continuing care retirement community in Fairfax, Virginia that has deployed Verizon FiOS throughout the community with a third-party vendor hosting its senior care technology through Verizon’s platform. 
 
The company’s philosophy, according to Weston, has changed somewhat: While Verizon Communications may have been thought of as merely a telephone company, it recognizes that in order to be successful, it needs to differentiate itself in the complex ecosystem of network providers.
 
“I think you’re going to see more of that,” he says. “Some of the network providers realize it’s not enough to just provide transport of analog voice signals from one place to another. The business has moved way beyond that; what consumers and businesses demand has moved way beyond that.” 
 
Written by Alyssa Gerace

Category: Senior Care, Senior Housing, Technology

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