Technology | March 01, 2010

Video Collaboration Gives Patients Remote Access to Healthcare

Cisco CEO John T. Chambers takes a Flip Video of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger during the press conference announcing the HealthPresence platform at HIMSS 2010.

March 1, 2010 – At the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference in Atlanta today, Cisco announced the availability of the Cisco HealthPresence platform. The advanced, care-at-a-distance technology platform connects patients with doctors and clinicians for healthcare consultations.

Traditional telemedicine or telehealth approaches have focused mostly on the problem of physical access to medical care. Cisco HealthPresence addresses four additional key healthcare delivery challenges, including capacity (the scarcity and productivity of clinical expertise), collaboration (one patient with many clinicians, many providers with many providers, and many patients with many patients), information exchange (the ability of participants to share and view vital health information), and personalization (engaging patients in ways that make them more active participants in consults).

Cisco HealthPresence extends and expands access to health services and quality care. HealthPresence creates new, streamlined clinical encounters by integrating two technology innovations: Cisco TelePresence and Cisco Unified Communications. Patients in HealthPresence encounters can see images and listen to sounds from a variety of diagnostic devices, such as digital stethoscopes, actively participating with what clinicians see and hear.

Beginning with HealthPresence trials in 2008, patients have described how the immersive video experience, along with the real-time transmission of physiologic information, draws them into the medical encounter. At the same time, clinicians report more effective patient management with HealthPresence. Equally important, HealthPresence allows multiple members of a patient's care team to simultaneously participate in consultations, creating new ways to deliver and coordinate care. This is a significant innovation from typical point-to-point telemedicine solutions and even traditional in-person medical examinations. With HealthPresence, primary care physicians and specialists, care managers and rehabilitation therapists, family members, and caregivers can all participate in treatment and care planning. These new capabilities are essential for information and communications technologies to play a vital role improving access to, and the affordability and quality of healthcare.

Cisco HealthPresence is planned to be available beginning March 2010 in markets across the United States, Canada and Europe. It is classified as a class I medical device by the FDA.

To evaluate patients in an interactive and highly participatory way, Cisco HealthPresence arms clinicians with the essential tools, including: Cisco Vitals Software, which captures physiological data and streaming high-definition video feeds, sending them to the clinical team with a high degree of security; Cisco TelePresence units in clinical and patient locations; and Integrated voice, video and data capabilities that collect patient medical information for transmission among multiple healthcare providers or between a single doctor and patient before, during and after telemedicine consultation.

Cisco's custom software offers highly secure encryption technology to protect the privacy and security of patient data exchanged in distance communications between patients and caregiver staff. Medical devices located at the patient's end unit include a general camera for external observation, ear-nose-throat camera, digital stethoscope, and a vital signs device to capture blood pressure, temperature, pulse rate, and blood oxygen levels.

A groundbreaking HealthPresence pilot was created with Molina Healthcare, two community health centers in San Diego, and the state of California to provide health and wellness services to underserved communities throughout the state. HealthPresence pilots were also created in Aberdeen, Scotland, with a division of the Scottish National Health Service, and in San Jose, Calif., with employees at Cisco's corporate headquarters. Both 2009 pilots achieved equally favorable feedback: More than 90 percent of participants said they would recommend the service to others.

"Citizens expect more options for healthcare services, and new models of care delivery need to be introduced in order to make care-at-a-distance a reality,” said Michael M. Siegel, M.D., vice president and medical director, Molina Healthcare Inc. “For Molina's medical offices, Cisco HealthPresence eliminates the need for clinicians and patients to be located in the same physical location. Our facilities are now able to reach a much wider and highly dispersed patient base, in order to provide the appropriate care."

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