AT&T ForHealth services aim to reduce costs, bolster care

Should AT&T's (NYSE: T) foray into the healthcare sector--announced yesterday, but covered nearly two weeks ago by FierceHealthIT's Neil Versel--prove successful, what exactly does that mean for the average patient? According to John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Business Solutions, it will translate into lower costs and a fundamental change in how care currently is delivered, for starters. 

Currently, AT&T provides wireless connectivity for Vitality GlowCaps--"smart" caps that go on prescription bottles and use light, sound and phone/text reminders to help patients with medication compliance. Through its "Healthcare Community Online," AT&T aims to eliminate, or at least reduce, the occurrence of unnecessary duplicate tests by supporting a Health Information Exchange service that helps providers share electronic health records online in a "highly secure manner." 

Furthermore, the company's "Telehealth Solutions" will give patients in rural and/or underserved areas access to higher-quality care via high-definition video and audio conferencing technology used in their local hospital or provider's office. Additionally, AT&T has two pilot programs in the works: one involving "smart slippers" and the other focusing on diabetes management. The goal of the smart slippers project is to help prevent patient falls, or at least to quicken the response time to such falls, by wirelessly monitoring a patient's walking style. The diabetes pilot will be deployed on a select number of AT&T employees, helping them to manage their disease proactively rather than reactively. 

"If we do what we think we're capable of doing, we think we're able to change healthcare [in] the way ATMs changed banking," AT&T's Xavier Williams told NBC DFW. "We think the revenue opportunity for us is just limitless." 

For more information:
- here's the AT&T press release
- read this Computerworld piece
- check out this NBC DFW article
- here's the AHA's endorsement statement

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