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Healthcare Industry in Transition

April 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm PST

2012 a “Pivotal Year” for Healthcare Transformation, Says Shehata in ATA Preview.

This is the year Cisco healthcare technology moves from creating simple collaboration environments to true innovation workspaces that generate value, particularly for accountable care organizations (ACOs) focused on quality and efficiency, said Cisco’s Ash Shehata in an online briefing to industry thought leaders.
Shehata, Cisco’s Senior Executive Director, Healthcare Business Transformation for the US, Canada, and Latin America, addressed invited bloggers and web journalists in advance of the American Telemedicine Association conference April 29 in San Jose.
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Cisco IBSG Examines Service Provider Role in Healthcare

In 2011, the amount Americans spent on healthcare equaled nearly 18 percent of the nation’s annual Gross Domestic Product.  This huge amount – more than $2.5 trillion – greatly concerns governments, insurers and medical professionals.  And the pressures on the healthcare system will only grow, as the overall U.S. population ages.

The healthcare debate has spawned many suggestions.  One focus is making the healthcare system more efficient.  Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), in a series of projects with key U.S. service providers, explored how they can help enable more efficient delivery of health solutions. 

Details are in an IBSG-produced document titled “Service Providers: A Tourniquet for the Hemorrhaging Healthcare System”.   The paper can be found on the Service Provider Thought Leadership section of the Cisco IBSG website.  At this site, you will find many interesting, provocative papers on various subjects relating to the service provider segment.  

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Cisco Enables Beyond Bring Your Own Device for the Healthcare Industry

Beyond BYOD

Cisco Systems is announcing a next-generation solution to address an increasingly complex and common challenge in healthcare settings: the need to assure high security and patient privacy, while enabling fast, role-appropriate clinical data access for providers, with seamless connectivity across a diverse array of (mobile?) devices – all at once.

The new Cisco offering is dubbed Beyond BYOD – “BYOD” standing for “Bring Your Own Device.” It enables a healthcare organization to set up and administer secure, unified, any-device access across its entire network – including wireless, wireless LAN, cellular and VPN elements.

Healthcare information infrastructure has been challenged in recent years by an increasingly distributed healthcare delivery model, the rise of electronic patient records and privacy concerns, and the explosion of mobile devices entering hospital networks. Physicians and healthcare staff are driving demand for immediate provisioning of their personal devices from smartphones, to tablets, and notebooks for use in the workplace and integration into the clinical workflow. Indeed, there are over 4000 applications specifically dedicated to the healthcare industry and a Forrester study found 41 percent of personal devices are used to access business applications.  Doctors, administrators, patients and their families all have rationales for accessing an information system – and each is likely to bring a unique device profile. Preference for their own personalized hardware over standardized, workplace-issued devices combined with the inherent need by  medical professionals for anytime, anywhere connectivity – challenges network solution providers to keep up by offering true borderless networks: secure systems that are easy to use and accept all kinds of connection-ready hardware.

Beyond BYOD from Cisco answers the call by delivering healthcare providers, patients and visitors access from any device in any healthcare space, a unified policy across the network, an uncompromised user experience, and simplified IT operations.

The BYOD challenge has confronted IT managers in the healthcare sector for some time, but Beyond BYOD goes beyond simple device acceptance. Cisco has taken a new, holistic approach to managing borderless networks. The result is a top-down, comprehensive approach that can deliver a high-quality experience while allowing management of complexity and scale for healthcare organizations of all sizes – not just the large-scale enterprise.

Beyond BYOD features:

  • A new “Identity Services Engine” (ISE) that helps users introduce personal devices to a workplace network and configure an appropriate access level without hands-on assistance from IT.
  • A new, scalable approach to WLAN infrastructure that supports rich media sharing. It’s IPv6-optimized for seamless roaming without drops and enhanced security. IPv6 compatibility is critical to next-generation BYOD strategy: Cisco VNI predicts 71 percent of smartphones and tablets – 1.6 billion in total – will be IPv6-capable by 2016.
  • Simplified IT operations through a new Cisco management platform, Prime Assurance Manager 1.1, which affords thorough real-time, network-wide views of application performance. A companion management tool, Prime Infrastructure 1.1, aids planning and deployment of Cisco infrastructure.

Beyond BYOD represents a new, more strategic approach to healthcare information network management – one that acknowledges and enables user preferences while anticipating future demands and developments.      

To learn more, click here:  http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/wireless/ps6302/ps9798/ps11716/at_a_glance_c45-703759.pdf

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It’s a boy!

March 26, 2012 at 10:51 am PST

Related blog: Coming Soon to Your Doctor’s Examining Room by William Moore, CTO of CareCore National

“It’s a boy!!!” my friend Kim told me just minutes after her 18 week ultrasound. Even though we were texting I could tell her excitement was restrained despite the exclamation points. Later that day she shared “he’s healthy but…[big inhale]…he has a cleft lip [even bigger exhale]”

This unexpected information meant more tests for her and her unborn son, Mason. It meant a series of surgeries starting at 6 months until age 5. It brought a lot of anxiety to Kim’s entire family.

In addition, the diagnosis raised a lot of questions such as, “Will Mason be okay? How will my family support him and cope with our baby having surgery? Will my insurance cover all that is needed to treat his cleft lip? Will his treatment be personalized? Will I…will he…be subjected to unnecessary tests? Will there be a lot of tests? Can I trust that his healthcare team is up to date on all the latest treatments? Will there be a team of healthcare experts to support us as Mason recovers from each surgery?”

Kim had a lot to prepare for and wanted to feel confident about Mason’s healthcare team. She wanted to know that the most experienced doctors would provide the best care possible based on leading industry practices.  What she wanted most was peace of mind that her son would be ok.

Improving the outcomes of patients like Mason while simultaneously alleviating the burden on physicians is no easy task. It takes a bold and innovative company to tackle such a challenge, one who is at the forefront of the healthcare industry and can envision improved care, better outcomes, and healthier people.

CareCore National is such a company. The company currently has contracts with more than 25 health plans working with 600,000 physicians providing care to 68.8 million people.

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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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