February 19, 2015 / 5:04 AM / 3 years ago

Cox developing digital home health services with Cleveland Clinic

(Reuters) - Broadband and cable TV provider Cox Communications Inc [COXC.UL] and the Cleveland Clinic medical center will announce on Thursday a new venture to develop in-home healthcare services, stepping into a market that is poised to grow as medical care goes digital.

The joint venture in Atlanta called Vivre Health is designed to help Cox expand its reach into healthcare beyond its current services such as providing broadband for hospitals.

The plan is to foster in-home monitoring and treatment, such as video consultation via broadband and home use of equipment to monitor and manage recovery from surgery, Cox executives said. That could cut down on costly in-person visits to doctors and hospitals.

The Cleveland Clinic, a world-renowned academic medical center based in Ohio, will offer expertise to help create new services for patients.

Cox also made an investment in HealthSpot, a company that provides walk-in kiosks where patients can interact with doctors through videoconferencing and take measurements with medical equipment such as blood pressure cuffs. The kiosks are being tested in several states at pharmacies and retailers. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

“Home health is an area that will see tremendous growth over time,” Asheesh Saksena, chief strategy officer for Cox Communications, said in an interview. “It will require more and more broadband capability.”

Cable TV providers such as Cox are seeking new revenue in areas such as healthcare and home security as their traditional business of selling TV services to residential clients matures.

Cox, the third-largest broadband and cable provider in the United States with about 6 million customers, already provides Internet and other capabilities to hospitals as part of its business services.

Healthcare customers represent about 10 percent of Cox’s business services clients. Business services are the company’s biggest growth engine with more than $1.8 billion in annual revenue.

With its investment in HealthSpot, Cox hopes to get patients used to the idea that they do not always have to visit a doctor, clinic or hospital for treatment.

The idea is similar to the introduction of automatic teller machines, which showed customers they did not have to go into a bank for their transactions, Saksena said. Consumers later started doing their banking from home, as he hopes they will with healthcare.

“We believe that (HealthSpot) technology is a good stepping stone and a good bridge to eventual migration into the home,” he said.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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