Focus alters perception. Take interest in one type of car, and soon you’ll start seeing it at every stoplight.

So it was while prepping for a recent webcast on cable and healthcare. I began reading news that would otherwise have gone unnoticed, such as ZOLL Medical Corp.’s plan to market a clinical defibrillator with a Wi-Fi option.

A Wi-Fi-enabled debrillilator? The idea is to have these devices to communicate potential states of unreadiness, as well as download patient data and the all-important procedural codes.

Costs aside, it sounds good. Having myself been jolted into cardiac regularity by a defib’s paddles, I like the idea of knowing that these devices are good to go when the need arises.

I also like the idea of medical professionals adopting the right kinds of information technology (IT) to become better at what they do, although according to a blunt National Academies of Sciences report issued in January, current efforts are insufficient, and possibly misguided. It urged greater emphasis on IT that provides "cognitive support, such as assistance in decision-making and problem-solving."

While it’s not the job of the cable industry to assess IT applications for their ability to delivery on that goal, cable telecommunications providers are are well-positioned to partner with healthcare institutions on transport and networking, if not more. Cablevision’s Optimum LightPath unit has been doing so for years; Cox Business Services is well established in some footprints; and Bright House Tampa is another impressive example.

MSOs have other things to do, not least of which is strengthening their delivery of consumer services over HFC and – in some cases – wireless networks. And other enterprise markets beckon.

That said, gross inefficiencies, demographic shifts, and policy directives have conspired to create opportunities in healthcare that will reward service providers who can deliver the right combination of technologies and applications.

Jonathan Tombes

The Daily


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