By Gregg A. Masters, MPH

First posted on HealthInnovationMedia.com 12/23/2013

As someone who’s been in this business for 3+ decades one of the indicia that times have indeed changed is the shifting cast of characters or better yet the mix of stakeholders that align themselves within an emerging segment or disruptive niche –  if not paradigm – of an historically changed resistant industry. Those of us with an event horizon beyond 24/7 ‘talking head news cycles’ remember the promises of wave after wave of public/private healthcare change initiatives amidst a sea of acronym soup that often requires a playbook if not glossary to decode and grasp.

The former usual suspects – pharma, hospital systems, manufacturers, suppliers, GPOs or the glut of ‘me too’ revenue cycle management companies has shifted to ‘infrastructure providers’ on who’s network of reliable, ubiquitous access and 24/7 connectivity the promise of improved if not optimal healthcare outcome depends. The vision of the triple aim nested in a accountability framework to deliver and document value in the healthcare ecosystem requires a sea of devices, apps and platforms to deliver as represented.

Enter one of the major players in this space, AT&T. In this chat, Dr. Pat Salber learns from Christopher K. Hill, Senior Vice President of AT&T Advanced Solutions Group is up to, including some recent announcements of specific product launches.

Some noteworthy exchange in the dialogue with Christopher Hill include:

PS: Who would have thought the telecom companies would have had such an important role in mhealth? Are you creating apps and solutions?

CH: ‘We do both. In particular areas we look for best of breed in terms of particular applications or solutions that we want to take to market end to end, but more broadly we’re providing platforms for innovators, startups and large enterprises that need connectivity.’

‘One of the big things we announced is an alliance with GE to enable all of their devices and machines to be embedded with an AT&T SIM globally, so no matter where they are or what they’re doing we’re able to connect those devices… just think of all the devices that are out there…making them come to life is a big piece of work that we’re doing.’

PS: ‘So translate that for me, what does that mean to me as a clinician, this relationship to GE?’

CH: ‘Think about your MRI or personal emergency response systems where you need connectivity in real time… a good example is our ATT EverThere solution we just launched last week… a pendant device that you can wear on your hip…one of the problems is when you fall you may not be alert enough to press the button, and we have auto fall detection. So it knows and learns your gait and how you’re walking and predicts or notices when you’re falling, and we’re able to send that information to a 24/7 call center that can place a call out – are you OK?, and if they don’t get a response then we’re going to send help.’