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Can a Tablet Help You Get Well?

November 12, 2012 at 2:04 pm PST

A few years ago, that question might have sparked a discussion around the efficacy of pharmaceutical drugs. Today however, references to tablets have fostered a whole new context especially in regards to healthcare. Mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones are indeed transforming healthcare as we know it and in a manner of speaking, they do have the means to impact health and wellness. How you may ask? Think about the latest statistics around the explosive adoption of mobile devices in healthcare. A recent study conducted by Manhattan Research estimated that the use of tablet devices by U.S physicians have nearly doubled in the past year alone and are expected to continue to rise at a meteoric pace. These devices are being used in both the personal and professional lives of healthcare providers for everything from accessing emails to electronic medical records, clinical research and collaboration with peers and industry experts. Tablets have become the new well of information – the new virtual water cooler if you will.

At Cisco we recognize that technology is enabling critical innovations in healthcare and with the convenience and flexibility of all the mobile devices at our finger tips – what better way to keep abreast of what’s new and next in healthcare than from your own tablet or smartphone device?

With that in mind, Cisco is excited to introduce a brand new digital magazine for the healthcare community, entitled “Well”.  Well is an interactive publication that will offer in-depth coverage of technological improvements and industry breakthroughs that truly impact the delivery of healthcare.

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Virtualization In Healthcare: To Be Or Not To Be?

August 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm PST

Virtualization continues to be a hot topic in the healthcare industry with many industry pundits calling this technology a potential game-changer.  There seems to be a lot of excitement around how this technology can help the healthcare industry in terms of cost optimization and efficiencies. Some of the key virtualization drivers include the move towards electronic medical records (EMR) deployment, support for increasing number of mobile devices, and providing secure access to patient-sensitive data to authorized individuals (HIPAA compliance).  

I do believe that healthcare organizations have much to gain by embracing virtualization in their networks, data centers, and end-user workspaces, but they must have complete confidence that benefits can be achieved without compromising core requirements for clinicians, administrators, and IT.  In order to build this confidence, one must clearly articulate the “incremental” return on investment for adopting virtualization technology.  I have seen and heard several bold claims as to how virtualization is going to transform the healthcare industry but yet those very claims are light on how it’s truly going to help healthcare organizations be “incrementally” better.  I keep emphasizing “incremental” because that is the true value-add customers are looking for in order to justify their investments.  In today’s macro environment, everyone is being tasked to do more with less. 

In most healthcare environments, clinical and administrative applications are client-server based.  Often a nurse or a doctor who has to enter data into an application ―for instance, an EMR application― does so from a shared workstation. This task starts with the user identifying himself/herself through a secure login process that can take anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes. After entering the data, the user often immediately logs out, leaving the station available for the next user.  In an average healthcare setting, clinicians will repetitively access such workstations for data entry, sometimes as often as 50 to 70 times per shift.  The cumulative productivity loss can add up to about an hour (60 times, with a 1-minute login procedure each time). The nurse or the doctor could use this time more productively by meeting with patients or other clinicians and increasing the number of patients they can see.  This is just one example where virtualization could provide the “incremental” value-add by significantly cutting the productivity loss, which has a direct positive impact on patient experience. 

Healthcare industry is at an interesting cross-road due to the confluence of virtualization and cloud computing.  Several healthcare organizations are viewing virtualization as a stepping stone in their cloud journey. Increasing number of healthcare applications are being used in a virtualized environment – either at server level or desktop/mobile level.  This is resulting in simplified clinical workflows and providing nurses and physicians with fast access to the applications and information they need, wherever they are, to support positive patient outcomes.  Over the subsequent blogs, I will articulate how Cisco virtualization platform is providing the “incremental” value-add that gives the healthcare organizations the complete confidence they need to embrace this capability.  Until then, stay tuned.

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Big Data: Coming Soon to Your Doctor’s Examining Room – Part 1

March 22, 2012 at 6:42 am PST

We invited William Moore, CTO at CareCore National to share his thoughts on how cloud and big data are impacting the healthcare industry. Read related blog, “It’s a Boy!”

Now that the initial frenzy of the cloud revolution is settling, solid applications are providing a glimpse of the potential of cloud computing to change daily life for the better. In my industry, healthcare, the cloud is not simply transforming existing processes, but actually enabling new decision-making models that simply weren’t possible before.

Why Electronic Medical Records Fell Short

The healthcare industry earlier tried for transformation with electronic medical records (EMRs). The original notion was that individual physician practices could justify the investment in servers, software, and maintenance based on efficiency gains. Then we’d bubble up the health records data from multiple organizations and it would be a Shangri La moment for chronic disease models, coordinated care, care duplication, and more.

But reality fell short of the mark. Many physicians’ offices are really small business at heart. They were hard pressed to afford EMR infrastructure and all that went with it. Efficiency gains are minuscule at best if you simply print out patient charts each morning, place them on that same old clipboard, mark them up with a ballpoint pen, and then have the office manager enter the new information into the EMR system to print out next time.

Without a critical mass of EMR infrastructure, developers lacked the incentive to create standards and unifying protocols. And the lack of protocols prevented meaningful sharing of data.

Even if some of your healthcare providers do use EMRs, it’s rare that all of your providers can see yours. Connecting EMRs among more than a handful of physician practices is not technically feasible, nor is it appropriate.

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Beyond Meaningful Use… I Have a New Meaningful Use EMR, Now What?

After implementing electronic health records and operating on meaningful use, you may ask yourself – ‘now what’?

Now that your hospital or medical practice has an EMR, you are in a unique situation to utilize this resource for several other research capabilities beyond quality reporting. EMRs provide an outlet to access rich clinical data for research use, along with several other secondary uses. They can provide a platform for clinical recruitment, along with recently being recommended to use to document extreme situations, evaluating devices and drugs to provide early information helping to identify side effects that may have been missed during clinical trials.

What are additional secondary uses for EMRs that you have seen in your medical practice places and hospitals? Please share below and feel free to read more on this topic.

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