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SAN FRANCISCO — Dr. Peter Tippett, who leads Verizon Healthcare and its digital health accelerator, believes that a patient-centered, patient-controlled electronic health record is coming in the future.

“It’s the patients who are going to drive the innovation,” Tippett told the standing-room-only crowd at VentureBeat’s HealthBeat 2014 conference, which began today. “It’s not the doctors or the insurance companies.”

Tippett’s experience in bringing information technology to health care goes way back.

Tippett was part of an industry group that advised President George W. Bush on how to use information technology to bring down the cost of health care. Tippett said that at that time, health care IT was 10-15 years behind banking technology.


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“If information technology was applied to health care at the rate that it was applied to banking,” Tippett said, “everybody would be healthier, and costs would go down.”

Tippett believes that by the time Obamacare showed up in 2009, the government had indeed switched its focus from the pharmaceutical and insurance companies to information technology as the source of cost savings in health care.

But even then, Tippett says, most of the IT was focused on back-office systems like billing — not on making the health care experience easier for patients and doctors.

He said it is up to tech entrepreneurs and investors to move the focus of the technology to the needs of the patient.

“We need to focus on the long term, rather than on the back office,” Tippett said. “We need to get people to talk to each other using technology.”

As an example of the current system’s inefficiency, Tippett points to tests ordered by doctors to treat a single patient. Much of the waste in the system, he said, comes from doctors and other caregivers not communicating with each other. “Thirty percent of all tests are done again, because the first guy couldn’t get [the results] to the second one,” he said.

Doctors might be able to communicate better with an electronic health record that is controlled by the patient and lives in the cloud.

“I do think the patient-centered record will eventually win,” Tippett said.

Verizon Healthcare is currently working on a “universal identity” system that would reliably associate a patient with her clinical record and allow her to share the data with her doctor and others, Tippett said.

HealthBeat is a two-day conference covering how new ways of tracking our personal data can improve our health and health care system.

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