Galloping technological change, encouraging economics, new partnerships, and rising consumer acceptance together poise telemedicine for widespread global adoption, according to Cisco and other experts at the 17th American Telemedicine Association meeting this week in San Jose.
“These next couple of years, I think, are critical,” said Dr. Danny Sands, Cisco Director of Medical Informatics. “I think this is the time. This is our time.”
Experts in panel discussions estimated the worldwide telemedicine market at a “conservative” $10 billion, and said up to 40 percent of today’s health consultations could be conducted with telemedicine technology.
At ATA, Cisco unveiled the latest version of the Cisco HealthPresence telemedicine solution. The new release, Cisco® HealthPresence Version 2.1 brings greater flexibility in video endpoints, the ability to scale the number of endpoints, enhanced security and integration with Emerge.MD OnePlace adding additional clinical workflow.
Other Cisco solutions attracting interest at ATA included:
• Cisco TelePresence VX Clinical Assistant, a compact mobile telemedicine cart designed expressly for hospital facilities with more onboard processing power and HDMI and DVI inputs that accept numerous hand-held medical devices.
• Cisco Jabber for Apple iPad, a unified communications application that provides instant messaging, presence, voice, voice messaging, and video calling on the Apple iPad.
• Cisco WebEx for Healthcare and Cisco Quad, collaboration platforms for social, mobile, visual and virtual collaboration.
• Cisco Cius and VXI, a remote collaboration tablet with hospital applications over an end-to-end architecture for virtualization.
• Cisco TelePresence EX-90 and EX-60, video end-points which enable physicians to conduct remote consultations from their desks.
For details on solutions, click this link.
The power of telemedicine innovation through integrating video, collaboration and cloud was emphasized. “This is going to unleash a whole new wave of innovation. We haven’t even dreamed of the new opportunities this will allow us. And really what’s exciting is that it’s being driven by our customers, it’s not about the inventors coming out with new ideas but it’s about the market driving new innovation,” said Ash Shehata, Cisco Senior Executive Director of Healthcare.
In a Tuesday plenary session, incoming ATA president Stewart Ferguson predicted fundamental changes in health care delivery worldwide.
“Health systems cannot continue to do what they’re doing and make it,” said Ferguson. “Telemedicine is perfectly positioned to be part of a more efficient healthcare system.”
Two Cisco executives participated in ATA panels during the three-day meeting.
Linda Boles, Cisco Chief Strategist, US Public Sector Healthcare Innovation, moderated a discussion of the telemedicine market. She elicited the observations that the telemedicine transformation will be led by consumer demand rather than availability of new technology –and that it is a global phenomenon, with innovations to be expected from smaller “laboratory countries” as well as the United States .
At a panel on retail and employee-based healthcare incorporating telemedicine, Sharon Gibson, Cisco director of business transformation and healthcare, related the genesis story of LifeConnections, the Cisco employee health program – telling her audience “adoption by younger employees depends on screening, events and provider enthusiasm”.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak applauded telemedicine at a Tuesday keynote session, telling attendees: “I love the fact that telemedicine fits into this category of people trying to do good things for those that don’t have access.” He urged the innovators in the audience to persevere: “Salaries and titles and yachts and money—I don’t think those are the biggest driving forces. Very personal things are what drive you hard.”
ATA CEO Jon Linkous told Cisco that 2012 was a record year for the annual meeting, with more than 5,000 attendees converging on San Jose. With the level of attendance and depth of discussions generated at ATA 2012, clearly telemedicine is a driving force in healthcare transformation.