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Mitigating poor health literacy with telepresence

June 7, 2011 at 6:19 am PST

I’ve talked on the telepresence blog about how telepresence can help bring healthcare to those who would otherwise go without. But the technology can also play an important role with those people who do receive treatment: it can help teach them to manage their care at home and prevent return trips to the hospital.

According to a recent Washington Post article, the U.S. Department of Education conducted a study that revealed that 36 percent of adults have only rudimentary literacy skills for understanding health material. An estimated 14 percent of these adults struggle with complete illiteracy. Another 52 percent of the total adult population has intermediate skills, meaning they can interpret and follow basic drug administration directions, while only 12 percent of the population has attained proficiency in reading, understanding, and following what the doctor or pharmacist says.

The nation’s limited health literacy costs us as much as $238 billion each year in hospital re-admissions and treating avoidable complications, the article said. To remedy these problems, hospitals and health plans have begun to implement technology to help identify and simplify confusing medical jargon that finds its way into written patient instructions.

But what about the 14 percent who can’t read at all? The Post noted that some healthcare providers have started giving patients instructional videos or picture-filled handouts. While these are great tools for patients to have, telepresence provides even more: the visual of the videos, the detail of the pictures, and the human connection.

With telepresence a patient can talk to a provider in real time, ask personal questions, demonstrate for the doctor how they plan to take their medicine … the list goes on. I have to think catching up with patients here and there via telepresence would cost less—in dollars and hours—than readmitting, retesting, retreating, and re-instructing someone in the emergency room. Not to mention the decrease in anxiety for doctors and patients that would come with knowing people are properly managing their care.

Increased knowledge for patients, less frustration and repeat care for providers—sounds like a win-win to me.

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Cisco TelePresence Turns Cities “Smart”

June 2, 2011 at 8:54 am PST

A trip to the DMV -- a thought that causes mild apprehension and dread -- can require a lofty time investment. By lofty, I mean that if you go on your lunch break, don’t count on being home for dinner. It’s just one of those necessary hassles we’ve come to grudgingly accept.

But behold the DMV in the energy efficient city of the future, and behold it from your living room couch: a Cisco TelePresence connection that lets you renew your license in your PJs. No emissions from the drive to the office. No lines once you get there, which helps to conserve your energy -- and sanity.

It’s all part of the development of Smart Cities —energy efficient urban centers of the not-so-distant future. With telepresence, Cisco is on the cutting edge of these cities’ evolution.

Witness Songdo, South Korea, a new city built with the “greenest” of standards. Cisco is working with Songdo’s developers to put telepresence technology in every home, with the aim of reducing energy consumption. At the GigaOm GreenNet conference in April, Cisco’s Marthin De Beer discussed telepresence’s role in Songdo and 100 other urban development projects, including a retrofit of Charlotte, North Carolina. In Charlotte, Cisco partners with the city and its utility to decrease building energy use by 20 percent.

De Beer noted in his remarks that telepresence has saved Cisco $800 million in travel expenses during the last five years, writes Greentech Grid’s Eric Wesoff. Translate those savings into municipal dollars, and you find more money for education, infrastructure, and countless social services. Cities adopting Cisco TelePresence technology stand to not only curb energy consumption, but also to enrich the lives of their residents (and DMV employees) in many ways.

I don’t know about you, but the grass sure is looking greener on the smarter side of town.

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Secure desktop virtualization and more highlights from Citrix Synergy

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Citrix Synergy conference in San Francisco.   The conference was buzzing with the latest innovations for desktop virtualization, data center and cloud.   

Secure desktop virtualization infrastructure is compelling for government agencies seeking strategies to reduce costs, improve operational efficiency, and provide control and security of centralized desktops and mobile multi-media clients. 


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A Fortunate Insight into the United States Navy (Part 3 of 3)

by: John N. Stewart, Vice President, Chief Security Officer, Cisco Systems, Inc.

What seemed like just a short while after we closed our eyes, yet realistically five hours later, a 5:00 a.m. wakeup call sounded and we rushed to join the enlisted men and women for breakfast.

This was a highlight of our visit for me, as I met and had breakfast with PO3 Dodson from Maryland. She informed me that she and her sister are both in the Navy. We shared a laugh about the food onboard and sleeping quarters for the enlisted, and discussed the challenges of being an enlisted woman on a naval aircraft carrier. We talked about life and her experiences in the military, which was a treat because she shared her experiences unfiltered and straight up. I really enjoyed meeting her.

As expected, we had a full agenda ahead for that day. It started with us watching a tender ship, which was pacing alongside the USS Stennis approximately 60 feet away, offloading ordinance via zip lines connected between the ships. Two CH-53 helicopters that only landed to refuel were also zipping between the two ships to help move the kit.

It was amazing to watch the two large ships moving side by side, transporting large containers from ship to ship, and knowing that in many cases the containers included things that may explode. Wow!

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A Fortunate Insight into the United States Navy (Part 2 of 3)

by: John N. Stewart, Vice President, Chief Security Officer, Cisco Systems, Inc.

Immediately upon arrival, the rear cargo hatch of the C-2 opened to expose the activity of the military operations on the aircraft carrier’s flight deck, and the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean. We were at sea on board the USS Stennis, and saw, heard, smelled and tasted F-18s taking off nearby. We had arrived!

After a short taxi, with the wings folding up, we stopped near the tower and were given the signal to unbuckle and prepare to step onto the flight deck. The flight deck was a bustle of activity, with aircraft landing and taking off at the same time, and we were quickly rushed inside to a welcoming room.

Aboard a carrier, the welcoming room was about 10x15 feet, yet lots of fun. We met Ensign Uranga (aka Chewy) and Lt. Commander Cindy Fields, who were our officer guides for the tour, along with MCSN Keim, MC3 Cameron, MC2 Sellbach, and MC2 Chepusov, all of whom cared for us throughout our stay. We were the first DV group of the year, and for some of our hosts, their first DV group ever.

After our preparation, an itinerary was handed out, which – due to our late arrival – was already outdated. We didn’t mind, however, because it meant that our group would start off on the flight deck watching the jets land and take off. We donned our safety gear, walked towards the bow about half the length of the ship, and stood in the hallway preparing to go up to the flight deck.

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