Verizon Foundation Healthcare Program Puts New Technologies in Patients Hands

By:  Tracy M. Fitzgerald

Most people agree – technology is rapidly changing the world we live in. And more than ever before, it is playing a crucial role in the evolution of healthcare delivery in the United States. Recognizing the importance of reducing healthcare disparities, improving access to care and empowering patients to be more active in management of their own health, the Verizon Foundation has introduced a philanthropic program, offering $13 million in grants and in-kind technology donations to healthcare researchers and innovators focused on the provision of quality care for women, children and seniors.

The Verizon Foundation has launched the program in partnership with four organizations, to start: the Children’s Health Fund; the National Association of Community Health Centers; the University of California, San Diego; and the Society for Women’s Health Research, which partners with Johns Hopkins Medicine on a number of research-based programs and initiatives geared toward the implementation of positive change in the global healthcare environment.

“Johns Hopkins is one of the richest places in the world for research, with people who are eager and willing to make changes to improve patient care,” said Florence Haseltine, Phd, M.D., Founder of the Society for Women’s Health Research. “The Verizon Foundation is providing resources for researchers to create new opportunities, kick-start ideas and really test if they can work.”

Patients undergoing treatment for heart disease at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center are among the first to reap the benefits of this new program. After women in the heart disease clinic’s waiting room were overheard time and time again, sharing their personal stories, tips and ideas, a concept evolved: patients would likely be more active in managing their own health conditions if given the tools and resources to network with others on a regular basis. Today, patients are encouraged to participate in an interactive heart disease management program, using a web-based patient portal and personal tablets, funded by the Verizon Foundation. Together, these tools allow patients to converse with one another, make contact with their care providers, track vitals, be continuously educated and find the support they need to make critically important lifestyle changes.

“This is a great example of how technology can be used to address behavioral change and create motivation within patients,” said Roselena Martinez, Healthcare Program Manager for the Verizon Foundation. “At the same time, these tools will help doctors do their jobs better because they will help them understand what is happening ‘right now’ with their patients, at any given time.”

Long-term, the Verizon Foundation intends to expand this program, to include partnerships with additional healthcare organizations that require new technologies to bring good ideas to fruition.

“We are taking a step back and focusing on learning about communities, identifying ideal partners and understanding how technology can affect health outcomes,” said Martinez. “For each new partnership or program we create, evaluation is the key. We want to link projects that are happening at various institutions, and bring our partners and their ideas together for great impact.”

Physicians interested in learning more about the role technology can play in helping patients manage chronic health conditions or disease can access an interactive infographic, developed by the Verizon Foundation, at http://www.verizonfoundation.org/chronicdisease/.


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