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Verizon to issue free medical ID credentials

Doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners can use them to access all their health IT systems, the company says.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted Dec. 8, 2010

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Verizon has announced that it will begin issuing medical identity credentials in January 2011 to physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners at no charge to make it easier to share patient data securely.

The credentials have the ability to be universal so that physicians can use them to access all their health information technology systems, the company said.

The credentials will allow physicians to access the Verizon Medical Data Exchange or the private physician portals that will be made available at no charge. The company said the credentials will satisfy requirements under the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act for all physicians to use "strong identity" credentials that will verify their identity when accessing and sharing patient information. The credentials also can be used to access non-Verizon health exchange platforms, the company said.

Joseph Ternullo, MPH, associate director of the Center for Connected Health at Partners Healthcare System in Boston, called Verizon's announcement a "single bold move" that would eliminate the need for physicians to manage multiple credentialing identifications.

Steve Archer, head of Verizon's Innovation Incubator Group, said physicians have an average of 17 identities in use at any given time because of the various systems they log into each day.

Wes Rishel, vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, a information technology research and advisory firm, said Verizon's move has the potential to be a big boon to the health IT industry and Verizon.

"This issue of certification has been one of the great barriers to achieving interoperability," he said.

Verizon has made some moves in recent months to gain a foothold in the health information technology sector. In August it announced the creation of the Verizon Medical Data Exchange, a health information exchange that will allow physicians to send and receive patient data across various platforms. The company expanded the network to allow the exchange of clinical notes and data through a secure online portal that will be free to individual physicians, even if they do not subscribe to the health information exchange. The service is similar to what the e-prescribing network Surescripts will offer to its network customers.

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