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      Verizon Healthcare: Beyond Boundaries with Security, Systems, and Connectivity

      Healthcare Rethink - Episode 60

      In the latest episode of FinThrive’s Healthcare Rethink podcast, host Brian Urban welcomes Robin Goldsmith, the Global Lead for Connected Health & Innovation at Verizon Business. This episode delves into the transformative role of Verizon in healthcare, exploring how the company is pushing the boundaries of what's possible in healthcare through innovative connectivity and security solutions.


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      Brian Urban:                                           
      Yes, this is the Healthcare Rethink podcast. I'm your host, Brian Urban, and today we have a real treat. We went to Verizon Healthcare to get our guest here today. Not only is he a global leader, but he has his own podcast, so we're going to talk a lot about that on our show here today as well. So Robin Goldsmith, welcome to our show.

      Robin Goldsmith:                                       
      Thank you, Brian. It's great to be here.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      This is going to be a lot of fun. We've gotten to know each other a good bit over the course of the last less than 24 hours-ish.

      Robin Goldsmith:                                       
      I saw your dogs sitting on the couch. I want to come back as your dog in my next life.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      You'd be well-fed, you'd be well-fed. But with every show, Robin, we like to get into who Robin Goldsmith is before becoming the global lead of connected health and innovation at Verizon Business. And then talk a lot about your impact and then look at the future as well, look into the crystal ball. So I know a bit about your background, but how did you get to the healthcare side of this gigantic, not only global, but atmospheric company called Verizon?

      Robin Goldsmith:                                       
      So I've been working in healthcare probably 15 years now in a variety of companies that were always focused on the provider market. So from patient experience, patient engagements, patient education, variety of companies that were working with healthcare systems.
      And before Verizon, I was working at a data analytics company. I know we shared the data history. So it was really a very big transition. I don't come from a telco background, which is a huge industry, and it was just serendipitous. I had a good friend of mine that was leading global health for Verizon, and he knocked on the door and I took it up.
      And I think it was right during Covid, so I was a Covid hire. So they did a great job onboarding me, didn't meet anyone in person for a year. I literally got hired September of 2020, so right at the height. So we were talking prior to me getting hired and it all kind of clicked of our own experience during Covid of having to do everything virtual, what does that really take?
      It takes this connectivity, these devices that have just become such a huge part of what was that existence and now it's just continuing. And it's just such a big piece of everyone's lives. So it just was really exciting to me. And then thinking about it through the healthcare lens, what that impact could be, what it should be and what position the telecommunications companies, really what they should be doing and can be doing in healthcare.
      So that got me here. And I often say that I think I have the coolest job at Verizon bar none, and I'll go to the mat on that one. But it's great. I'm very privileged to be able to work across many of our healthcare customers across the ecosystem. So, given my background, I spend a lot of time with the healthcare systems out there, but then I get to speak with everyone from startups that are looking to change things and health equity startups to some of the pharma companies, MedTech companies. So it keeps me busy. It's always different. So it's a great place to be.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      It's a lovely story because looking at your background surface level and hearing the things you've done, it's so different. You're spread in such an interesting way. So obviously you're quite a, I'd say a Verizon healthcare athlete these days. You do a bunch of different things. And one thing before we get into a question I have on the Kuiper project, because we talked about this a little bit before, you majored in French academically.

      Robin Goldsmith:                                       
      Actually history with a French minor.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      Oh my goodness gracious. So that's the one thing I was hoping you could drop some French on our show here today.

      Robin Goldsmith:                                       
      Yes, sir.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      I'm hesitant to ask because I cannot interpret anything French, but I'll have to get some lessons from you on that side. But it's an amazing background that you've had and you've been with Verizon now for about three years. And one thing that we touched on yesterday was something in healthcare that I never thought of.
      And in healthcare they're very physically based, traditionally. A lot of systems, have big buildings and now they have offshoots, like micro hospitals, primary care centers, more convenient places to have engagement and have healthcare services done. And with all this development, this progress, we could say there's a lot of tech involved, not only from a software standpoint, but from a hardware standpoint.
      So security was something we talked about the other day, and healthcare is just such a vulnerable place for cyber attacks, for hacking, for ransomware, all things that could penetrate and not only take sensitive information, but really take a lot of monies from hospitals that really now need it more than ever.
      So can you tell me a little bit about the last few years that you've been here, maybe a year and a half ago to now that you've seen evolve with devices and healthcare and how security is getting filled in or how maybe it's still gaped?

      Robin Goldsmith:                                       
      Yeah, happy to. So my team was stood up and I'm just one of a great team that we have that's focused on innovation and strategy. We were stood up about four years ago before I even joined with four key pillars of what we were going to be focused on. It was kind of what we thought were the areas we could make the most impact for our client base.
      And that was what we call the connected hospital, patient experience, security and virtual care. So that was four years ago. A lot happened in the last four years, but all four of those are now even more prevalent, have become security, patient experience, they all had been in the spotlight coming out of the last couple of years.
      And prior to joining Verizon, like many people, I don't think Verizon and healthcare, but when you start thinking about what networks, what devices, what technology we can enable, having this amazing infrastructure in the domestic US and then globally, what that can enable and the investments we've made with the next generation connectivity, which is 5G, and what that can enable in healthcare.
      So those four big bets are now the same bets we have today. And I think they're even more important. They've all gained traction. And like you said, unfortunately healthcare has a ton of very rich valuable data, and it's really unfortunate that it seems like every week we see data breaches, ransomware attacks happening to healthcare. And that's because I think they've got multiple priorities.
      Security has always been a priority, but compared to finances and other industries, perhaps they didn't fortify their attack surfaces, as we call it, in a way that kept up and financial challenges to do that, to do everything they needed to do. So we're seeing healthcare systems fortify everything they're doing.
      And we talked about this, as you start creating these hospitals of the future, more and more ambulatory sites, clinics, care in the home, that all takes connectivity and it takes devices which are in essence other avenues for bad actors to get in. So I didn't know this, but Verizon has a huge global security practice.
      A lot of the global internet traffic runs on our pipes in one way, shape, or form. So we have a unique viewpoint and vantage point to advise and create services to protect our client base. The security of our network is paramount, and you don't see things in the news about our network getting breached. This is something that is the most important thing for us.
      And those learnings from our own experience, how we protect ourselves is what we evangelize to our client base and create products to protect them. So I think we have a really good, really deep and wide security practice. We publish what we call the data breach investigation report that gives ... it goes into a vertical and specific industries, but it's really all the trends that are happening, what we're seeing in each industry, what are the key findings for each in healthcare, breaking it out of what are the most common types of attack, how do they happen, how you can prevent it. So it's a wonderful resource for our client base.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      That's amazing because in healthcare, traditionally you think about community health assessments. A lot of healthcare, health plans do that on the populations they serve majority and secondarily, and your assessment's very specific and I think often overlooked.
      I think that's a key foundational component of running a business in healthcare is ensuring your information inside your house and what you take in is kept securely, and confidentiality is definitely important. So I had no idea the expanse that Verizon has across information security, cybersecurity among many other things.
      So it's just fascinating to hear that. And I would imagine a lot of healthcare institutions heed your advice. They probably take that into their strategic plans for the next year or even quarter in a short term fashion. Is that something that you see often coming out of the report as a part of some of the more consulting services that Verizon provides in healthcare?

      Robin Goldsmith:                                       
      Yeah, I mean, you nailed it. We have a great consultancy practice for security, and we also, we can't do everything. We partner with the best in breed for every piece of what you need to secure. So those partnerships we vetted. So in many cases, a customer will already be working with many ... It's like the vendor creep we know all too well in healthcare, Brian.
      These guys have so many different vendors they have to manage. So oftentimes as a big ... we have a lot of scale. We can bring that all together in more of a cohesive manner and be the one kind of point for them to work with and manage those solutions.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      And we kind of talked about something you mentioned before, which is there's a huge vendor list across the ecosystem with healthcare and with health plans. So for the healthcare side of this world, in terms of new vendors coming into this space, have you seen more creative partners that are even working with you or working in part with you into the healthcare system that are adding more value? Or is it just, I guess players trying to make a disruption? I'm curious of the landscape view that's happening from what you can see.

      Robin Goldsmith:                                       
      I think you and I see a lot of the same companies that are coming up. How typically we see them is there is a need for connectivity and a device. So they're putting our chip sets within those devices. One company that we recently onboarded were having connectivity challenges, basically a cardiac monitoring device that can be worn in the hospital and then in the home, to save a lot of the telemetry beds.
      So this is a mobile, wearable that these folks can have, really interesting technology, but they were having trouble with the chip sets and the connectivity. So they came to us and said, can you help solve that? So we kind of bring them into our ecosystem, have our tech advisors look at what they're working with, advise and set them up.
      And we're lucky to have ... we're very proud of our network and what we can do and our teams and those kinds of scenarios where we can really impact that. So it's fun for me to work with some of the startups that come knocking to see the value and see what we can bring to the table.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      That's really cool because it seems like Verizon has put themselves as maybe the wizard in the industry. So a wise all knowing being that a lot of different vendors can come and assess their needs with you, and then you can also form a partnership or simply help them out one directionally. So that's really cool.
      And I think this is eyeopening for my audience in particular, Robin, because Verizon I don't think is synonymous with healthcare, at least from a lot of the folks that I talk to, unless they're very tech sound in terms of hardware, connectivity, cybersecurity. The one thing that I thought was really interesting, I think this would come with a well-researched tech person in our space is the Kuiper project.
      And I had mentioned to you the other day, Starlink. It's opening up a world of access to people in all different geographical areas by all different means to be able to be connected to others over a satellite based wifi. So tell me a little bit about the Kuiper project. I'm really excited about this because it's a competitive move, but also you're opening up more access to people that need it globally, not just in the US healthcare purview.

      Robin Goldsmith:                                       
      For those of your audience that don't know, I mean LEO, low earth orbits or what you see in Starlink and Project Kuiper, which is backed by Amazon, and we have a publicly released relationship with them. And that's just, it is, like you said, it's a way to extend coverage and connect more folks.
      So that's early days, but I think it's going to be more and more prevalent. And to your point, the more people that have access to this technology and connectivity, the better. They can engage in healthcare. Going back to domestic US for a second, we made an incredibly large investment in basically spectrum.
      And we talked about this earlier. We know our role in healthcare, we're the road, we're the enabler for a lot of these technologies that need high speed, low latency to deliver data in real time. So what excites me about all the investments we've made to, we call it c-band, which is kind of the best parts of what is the macro network.
      So what you get on your phone today in Pennsylvania, and then millimeter wave spectrum, which doesn't propagate that far. So it's kind of the sweet spot and that is really 5G. So there's been a lot of noise about 5G, but it's the investments we've made over the last two years, we are working fast and furiously to harness more and more of that and make that available.
      And it's going to impact my point in all this, it's going to impact folks in rural areas because in Philadelphia and New York, Phoenix, we've already built that infrastructure. Those were the first folks in line. So now with these additional investments, it's going to impact folks in rural areas, same use cases, low earth orbits, but domestically, we have an incredible team that's working very hard to harness these investments that we've made to put in the additional towers, the fiber, I think the stat was, I mean, millions and millions of miles of fiber have been laid in the past couple of years and continue to be laid to harness all this connectivity.
      So it's going to impact rural in the most profound ways. And our team is privileged to work on interesting use cases and projects that in rural areas, tribal lands, in Alaska and in the lower 48 that really have major challenges with connectivity. So how do we solve for that? So I think having this additional spectrum and investments that we've made is going to really come to the aid of all these projects that we're working on.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      And I see the amazing angle from this is the impact it'll make for socially vulnerable populations, those that are lower on the socioeconomic scale in the US. So I think opening up access, and you touched on a lot of different populations there too, tribal lands, but not only rural, but also inter-city as well, hinterlands, everything in between. So that's really exciting.
      And I think on top of that, your investment obviously integrates security. So when accessing healthcare, it's something that is baked in. It's not just this crazy new technology that everyone's getting access to, but a lot of your deep background and security comes along with that. So I'm really excited. I'm hopeful that you do a lot of projects and studies that come with the Kuiper project, expanding and scaling access for satellite-based wifi, LEO. So that's really, really cool.
      I want to look a little bit ahead, Robin, because you've had this really interesting background. You've been in different bits and parts of the healthcare ecosystem. I think healthcare in Verizon's hands makes a lot of sense and I want to look out the next maybe five plus years, nothing too far, too crazy.
      As we see healthcare starting to expand deeper into our pockets and into the palms of our hands, in our homes, we're having probably over the next five years, about 90 million people in the US being 65 and older, are you envisioning a very wide loving embrace of Verizon connecting different devices, remote patient monitoring, smartwatches, phones into a more actionable, well coordinated, wary for healthcare to pull insights out of? Is that part of something you think Verizon is going to play a huge contribution toward in the healthcare ecosystem?

      Robin Goldsmith:                                       
      Yeah, I do. And I think it's something we've been doing for quite some time now. I think there's studies that have been done with the impact of RPM, for example, one of the things you mentioned. And what the role was of, it's a great example of all these specialty hospitals across the country, I'm not going to name any names, but the folks that are top of the leaderboard when it comes to a specialty condition and even children's hospitals, that folks will fly to bring their kids to.
      If we can prevent through technology, connectivity and devices, if we can prevent those folks from having to travel for just routine exam and use telemedicine, which is telemedicine is just evolving, the more and more things that can be done virtually are really exciting to me. I mean, being able to put through a lens that I'm looking at right now, being able to detect all kinds of different potential issues with a person just through the visual means and AI looking at those, analyzing, identifying areas, it's really mind-blowing what that can do.
      That's something that we're going to continue to be a mainstay. We know our place is to enable all these amazing companies, all these brilliant folks that are trying to bring technology to the market to make things better for all of us. I think that's what excites me is that we really have a large role to play in all of this. And I think it's only going to expand more and more this decentralization of care into the home.
      And then you've got hospitals, as you said earlier, all the ancillary sites, then the home, free hospital and the ambulance, but then this kind of fourth quadrant of anywhere care, which is primarily through a phone or a tablet. And I think that's going to evolve more and more. And the rise of wearables, it's really kind of speaking to meeting the patient where they are at all times.
      So they don't just connect with their healthcare provider once or twice a year, it's kind of this always on scenario. And I think wearables are evolving more and more to clothing now. It's fast evolving. So I'm excited about that and what we can do to enable all of this.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      And I think maybe intentionally or unintentionally, based off of what you said there too, how your tech is going to be impacting maybe a dotted line to value-based care transformation across the US. I think having these different devices better enabled, better connected, is going to provide physicians the means to be able to treat their patients with better care and better quality and get reimbursed for that, really controlling spend and unnecessary healthcare utilization. So I don't know if that's strategically on the line for Verizon, but it feels like it.

      Robin Goldsmith:                                       
      Yeah, I mean, I'm always very cautious in saying that, I think a doctor that I always quote him because I saw him speak at HYMS, his vision of technology in the hospital environment and in the home is that this technology is going to be invisible. It'll just be there, right? This ambient, whether it's sensors, wearables, it'll just be happening in the background.
      It won't be as invasive. But I'm always very careful to say all this technology we see will never replace a doctor and a nurse. I think this expansion and this evolution is happening out of necessity because of the staffing shortages we're seeing, how do we hopefully make these folks' lives easier because they've been and still continue to be in a really hard place, understaffed, and if technology and this connectivity can help just bolster that in any way, that's what really excites me and gets me out of bed in the morning.

      Brian Urban:                                           
      That is exciting because you're accelerating and amplifying healthcare and being able to support the physicians that provide care to individuals. So I am just enthralled now with the healthcare side of Verizon and all the different things that you have coming out the next several years and knowing that you're the global lead of a lot of this, that's even cooler to know. So Robin, thank you so much for joining our little show here today.

      Robin Goldsmith:                                       
      Thank you, Brian. That was a pleasure.

      Brian Urban:                                           
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