Verizon Intros Telehealth For Prisons

Videoconferencing can serve inmates' healthcare needs while reducing costs and improving security, said Verizon.
Verizon announced Monday that it will offer design capabilities, implementation, and support for Web, audio, and videoconferencing services to prison healthcare systems across the country.

The Verizon Telehealth Collaboration for Prisons will offer telehealth solutions using video capabilities from desktop webcams to high-definition and immersive video. The company said that, by conducting videoconferencing sessions, the technology can expand inmate access to care by enabling doctors the opportunity to meet with inmates via video using remote monitoring devices for near-real time access to patient medical information while reducing transportation costs. The technology can also help improve access to healthcare professionals and speed diagnosis.

Furthermore, Verizon officials also said they've taken into consideration the risks involved in treating prisoners, and the company noted that psychiatric care can be provided via a videoconference.

"There's often a large geographical distance between correctional facilities and offsite medical centers and it's very costly to transport a prisoner offsite. There's guard time, the added personnel needed to do that, as well as the fuel costs," Nancy Green, Verizon's managing principal for healthcare, said during an audio podcast prepared by the company. "On top of that, during the transport there are concerns over security -- the security of the guards, the medical professionals, and the general population that may be at the medical facility," Green added.

According to Kannan Sreedhar, VP and global managing director of Verizon Connected Health Care Solutions, prisons also have aging populations, which has increased the cost of care at these facilities.

"When you look at the overall demographics the prison population is aging. The cost of caring for prisoners with health issues has significantly increased, and there is a huge strain in terms of the state and local economies," Sreedhar said. According to Verizon executives, prisons can serve their aging populations, particularly those in rural areas, with enhanced delivery of primary care services, as well as expand access to numerous specialties including neurology, cardiology, radiology, and pathology.

"It is a challenge to have specialists visit prisons frequently enough to provide care, especially when prisons are in remote locations. This provides much greater availability for the prisoners as well as much greater efficiency and cost containment for the marketplace," Sreedhar said.

Verizon Telehealth Collaboration for Prisons is available immediately under various state contracts, as well as an IT solution under the U.S. General Services Administration's Networx, Washington Interagency Telecommunications System (WITS 3) and Connections contracts, and the Alliant Government-Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC).

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