Photo Credit: Adam Schultz / Clinton Foundation
Remote and home patient monitoring technologies will be a key component of former President Bill Clinton's new push, through his William J. Clinton Foundation, to eliminate health disparities between communities of different socioeconomic and racial strata.
Clinton this week introduced the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, in partnership with General Electric, Tenet Healthcare and Verizon Communications. Those companies and the Clinton Foundation will work with individuals, communities, corporations and not-for-profit organizations to promote healthy lifestyles, with a focus on underserved areas in the U.S.
"Our nation's rising tide of preventable health problems is alarming because it is ruining the quality and length of life for millions, and driving up healthcare costs in a way that can’t be sustained," the former president said in a statement. "The Clinton Health Matters Initiative builds on my Foundation’s work to address global health crises and the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States by engaging not only with individuals but also with the systems and places that affect individual health," Clinton added.
Of note, Verizon will support technologies such as wireless networks for patients to take vital signs at home and send readings to their physicians, as well as systems to alert doctors when patients with chronic diseases need medical interventions, Verizon Chief Medical Officer Dr. Peter Tippett told Reuters. The telecommunications company also is providing connectivity for telemedicine networks that will bring much-needed specialty care and image interpretation services to rural areas.
"We are proud to partner with the Clinton Foundation on this innovative and potentially life-changing initiative," Tippett said in the Clinton Foundation's statement. "As the foundation's technology provider, we believe we can empower individuals to take better care of their health. We have barely scratched the surface on using technology to improve health and well-being and reduce medical costs."
Health disparities and preventable illness "are robbing people of a lot of good years. We can't let that continue," Clinton told Reuters.
The Clinton Health Matters Initiative is starting its work in California's Coachella Valley, where poor desert communities often get forgotten amidst the glitz and wealth of Palm Springs and Indian Wells, and in greater Little Rock, Ark. The capital city of Clinton's home state has major income and health disparities, too. The project will expand to other areas, according to the foundation.
At the very end of his presidency in 2001, Clinton called health disparities "unacceptable in a country that values equality and equal opportunity for all," and called on the nation to close major gaps by 2010. As with other goals in healthcare, that never happened, and state of crisis in this $2.7 trillion industry lingers.