Duke University and Verizon Partner on New Health IT Initiative

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Duke University is partnering with Verizon (NYS: VZ) in a health IT initiative pursuing technologies intended to improve care, expand health care access and lower costs.

The agreement pairs Duke's research resources with Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions, the telecom giant's health care practice group. Duke will make available personnel, including research and project management experts. Intellectual property from the university may also be used in the program's initiatives. Verizon's computing infrastructure and staff will be used to develop and test new applications. No financial terms of the agreement were disclosed.

"The ties between academia and technology companies run long and deep, and this collaboration underscores Verizon's commitment to enabling the transformation of U.S. health care delivery through the common-sense application of health IT," Dr. Peter Tippett, vice president of Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions, said in a prepared statement.

Besides working together to identify and pursue new health IT projects, Duke and Verizon will also form a scientific advisory board staffed with representatives from both partners. The board will review the progress of partnership initiatives and offer guidance. Duke students can participate in an internship program that will assign them to positions with Verizon working on projects emanating from the Duke-Verizon partnership.

Dr. Kevin Schulman, director of the health sector management program at Duke, told InformationWeek Health care that the university has been in discussions with Verizon for about two years. Health IT involves moving data from one point to another, but the network is key.

"A lot of solutions and concepts need networks and mass," Schulman said. "By utilizing Verizon's technology expertise and infrastructure, Duke and Verizon can work on scaling up those innovations."

Examples of projects that Schulman said the Duke-Verizon partnership could pursue include smart medical devices and sensors in the home or telehealth applications that patients and doctors could use on smartphones.

Verizon created Verizon Connected Health care Solutions in 2009. The group provides IT and consulting services for health care providers, insurers and life sciences companies.

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