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AT&T Launches Health IT Portfolio

ForHealth division will provide wireless, networked, and cloud-based services for the healthcare industry.

Slideshow: Who's Who In Healthcare IT
Slideshow: Who's Who In Healthcare IT

AT&T has announced the establishment of a new practice area and portfolio of specialized services that will support technology to help improve patient care and reduce medical costs nationwide.

Dubbed AT&T ForHealth, the practice will accelerate delivery of innovative wireless, networked, and cloud-based solutions specifically for the healthcare industry, AT&T said Thursday.

Examples of healthcare solutions that use AT&T's technology include medicine bottles that remind patients to take pills on schedule, devices that remotely monitor patients' heart levels, and audio/video links that can replace the need for an in-person visit to the doctor.

"Today's announcements signal an exciting new era where our technology and smart networks can help improve the quality of care, reduce costs, and contribute to a healthier world," said Dan Walsh, senior VP and head of AT&T's ForHealth practice, in a statement.

Healthcare initiatives at large telecom providers like AT&T are diverse and often span enterprise, consumer, wireline, and wireless businesses, said IDC analyst Irene Berlinsky, who noted that it takes time to coordinate and leverage communications tools and information platforms used by healthcare delivery organizations and patients.

By announcing the ForHealth practice area, AT&T is signaling that its healthcare strategy is cohesive and ready for prime time, Berlinsky said, but she warned that a cohesive strategy is not enough to win healthcare business, and noted that Sprint's and Verizon's health information exchanges (HIEs) bring steep competition.

"Technologies that are future-proof, interoperable, and built on open standards will win out against proprietary solutions. Integration into medical workflows will be critical to healthcare provider adoption," Berlinsky said. "For consumer-facing solutions like remote monitoring, ease-of-use, and patient engagement will be key."

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