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ATA 2012: Cisco Addresses Unique Needs of Nurses

May 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm PST

“What I often feel today is, nurses nurse technology rather than nurse their patients.”

So says Cisco Chief Nursing Officer Curtis Dikes, a registered nurse in his own right, whose job at Cisco is to change that.

At the American Telemedicine Association’s 2012 meeting in San Jose, Dikes was kept fully engaged by attendees newly curious about Cisco technology and the customer-oriented thinking behind it.

“It’s not about the technology,” said Dikes during a break. “Technology is a conduit – part of the equation that enables a better care process.”

Do nurses have unique workflow requirements that warrant special attention? Yes, said Dikes, past president of the American Nursing Informatics Association. “Nursing has its specifics just like medicine.”

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Cisco LifeConnections Health Center in ATA Spotlight

Sharon Gibson, Cisco’s Director of Business Transformation and Healthcare, told how Cisco developed its employee health center, LifeConnections, at a Monday morning ATA panel on “Retail and Employer-Based Healthcare Using Telemedicine.”

Although telemedicine became an aspect of LifeConnections in September 2010, two years after the first LifeConnections center opened in San Jose, it’s become a key part of the proposition. It helps the 80 domestic Cisco campuses feel they’re getting benefits comparable to those delivered at headquarters. Overseas – particularly at the Cisco Bangalore campus, site of our second LifeConnections center, where roads and traffic pose a 24/7 challenge – telemedicine simply enables better patient access to health care.

Throughout the Cisco community, engaging employees is the prime goal for LifeConnections. The initial intent was to use health care to enhance employee productivity among a young workforce not always focused on the subject. Most health care discussions in the US revolve around cost-cutting and efficiency, which often means less access for patients, Cisco took the opposite view with LifeConnections – that more access, and more care opportunities, would lead to positive cost results going forward. 

It’s worked – and telemedicine is a key part of the equation. Insights Gibson shared at ATA:

  • Screenings, events and provider enthusiasm are key to driving adoption over time.
  • Different approaches suit different geographies. In Bangalore Cisco will soon have five satellite offices using telemedicine, all open 24 hours a day, six days a week.
  • There’s opportunity to deliver specialty care using telemedicine technology. Working with Stanford University, LifeConnections has just launched our first teledermatology clinic.

More larger organizations are getting into corporate health care with on-site clinics – you need about 1,000 employees to make it a good investment – but Cisco is proud to be blazing trails and and winning high employee satisfaction in the process.

There’s evidence that others see lessons in LifeConnections.  A co-panelist of Gibson’s pointed out that US government employees who fall ill on duty overseas are often flown home or to regional health centers at great taxpayer expense and productivity loss. A telemedicine solution could mitigate much of that. “What you’re doing at Cisco, Sharon,” he said, “needs to be shared with the State Department and the Commerce Department.”

It’s good to hear Cisco’s work is influencing others. Cisco, too, feels we have plenty to share about telemedicine.

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