01 Dec 2010:
IBM (NYSE: IBM) and American Well™ Inc. today announced an expanded partnership to further embed security into American Well’s Online Care system in an effort to further safeguard patient information that is collected and exchanged as part of live Online Care consultations with healthcare providers. Today’s announcement builds on American Well’s selection of IBM to perform security auditing services for the past two years.
American Well partners with major health plans, delivery networks and pharmacy chains to enable Online Care services that allow patients to connect live and on-demand with primary care and specialty physicians, as well as other clinicians, whenever they have a health need, from their homes or workplaces. Using this growing type of telehealth consultation, Online Care, patients no longer have to travel great distances to get proper medical attention, which also eases scheduling challenges for healthcare providers. For example, a patient can use the service to check in with their doctor for issues like reviewing lab results or meet with a doctor online, right away, if they have a bad sinus infection, even if the doctor is booked for several weeks.
The concept of telehealth is an important part of transforming the nation’s healthcare system. The US Department of Health and Human Services established the Telehealth Network Grant Program which provides special support for rural healthcare funding. Technology such as that provided by American Well brings together secure access to electronic medical records and health information exchange giving the right medical teams access to the patient and health plan information they need to diagnose and treat patients earlier.
As part of the expanded partnership, IBM will help American Well further integrate its professional security services and skills into their application development process to create even more secure applications for the company’s telehealth system from the start. IBM helps American Well to develop more secure, customized versions of its Online Care application for each client.
American Well’s relationship with IBM started in 2008 when American Well selected IBM to perform in-depth application vulnerability assessments for several of their customer, patient, and provider web applications to identify potential security issues. These assessments verify tasks including transmission security, authentication, session management, passwords and provide a high-level architecture review. In assessing the security of the system, IBM helps identify potential security issues and eliminate possible vulnerabilities before they occur. The assessments also check to see that American Well’s system protects Personal Health Information (PHI) and remains in compliance with data security guidelines.
“All of American Well’s Online Care products are built using a secure development framework, verified through a continuous vulnerability assessment process,” said Jason Medeiros, vice president of Hosting at American Well. “Through our partnership with IBM, our clients have the assurance and required confidence that their patient information is secure amidst an ever-changing threat landscape.”
“Telehealth and Online Care are emerging areas that will have a significant impact on how care is delivered – extending the reach of better care and making it possible for more patients to get the care they need when they need it,” said Dan Pelino, general manager, IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences. “With this smarter system also comes the need to protect patient, provider and physician data in a way that monitors and pre-empts threats before they occur – part of our initiative to deliver a secure by design IT infrastructure.”