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VA Rolls Out Tablets, Enables Telepresence On-the-Go

November 30, 2011 at 9:13 am PST

To ensure its facilities stay on the cutting edge of healthcare and technology, the federal government plans to purchase 100,000 tablet computing devices for its Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, according to Nextgov.

It’s a move that makes a lot of sense, as Fierce Mobile Healthcare notes in a recent story. Tablets represent the most current technology available, and their presence in a hospital lures medical students to fight for positions, as they perceive the technology as top-of-the-line, according to the article. The devices save hospitals money by preserving funds that would otherwise go towards more expensive PCs or laptops, and they save physicians time by streamlining documentation and administrative procedures, the article said.

There’s one more crucial thing a tablet brings with it to the hospital: telepresence. With telepresence at their fingertips, doctors can remotely follow-up on their patients, yet still see their patients “in person.” They can provide care to chronically ill patients living far from the hospital, review x-rays clearly and precisely, and access continuing education resources.

We’ve had the fortune of seeing the tablet in action at a healthcare facility. Palomar Pomerado Health in Southern California uses Cisco’s Cius tablet to enable physicians to access full patient histories anytime, anywhere. This access speeds the reporting of test results and the delivery of prescriptions and medications. Doctors also use the Cius to support Cisco TelePresence.

While there are security and other mobile device management issues to consider, both Apple- and Android- based applications are beginning to take these barriers into account and fine-tune security on their devices, according to Nextgov. The Cius, for example, built from the ground up with security in mind, has security functions in place at all levels, from the hardware to the network access and from enterprise access to mobile security.

With anytime access to telepresence, patient records, administrative tools, and more, the VA stands to greatly enhance its patient care as it evolves its technology to the tablet. Knowing confidential information remains secure with tablet technology, could your agency or office benefit from having telepresence and expanded network access on the go?

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Thankful for…the privacy of my patient data

If you happened to have your Thanksgiving meal last week with a person of Greek heritage, you may have heard them toast “Yia mas”, that literally means “to our health”. And that is exactly what I am thankful for each day, my family’s health.

I am also thankful for the health of our wireless business, which is going great thanks to professionals such as doctors, and nurses that want to want to use their personal devices (smartphones and tablets) at work.

At Cisco we have long been talking about how we enable this proliferation of devices in the workplace and how we make it easier for IT to onboard and troubleshoot these “un-managed” devices. We also provide a robust wireless infrastructure that enables these professionals by providing the best possible mobile experience. But the trend of personal devices in the workplace does pose a valid concern: “As more and more doctors start using their personal iPads at work, will my patient data be secure?”

Curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to look at some data over the long weekend to better understand how healthcare data breaches occur. This is by no means a scientific analysis, I just crunched some data I downloaded from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website (hss.gov), so the findings are not conclusive, but rather indicative of what is happening. The data represents HIPAA breaches of 500 or more records per incident over the past 2-year period.

Here is what the data says: Read More »

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Clinicians using tablets DO deliver better care

Oh, how I wish tablets were around when I was providing patient care as a Registered Nurse on a busy surgical floor! I had a legion of patients, and masses of information to find and remember ‘in the moment.’ It seemed like I could never find the person or the equipment I needed fast enough.

Sometimes, the most practical option was to take pen to paper (or to my scrubs) to jot down a note, and then go find the information I needed in a chart, the EHR, or reference once I got back to the nurses station. Could I have delivered more timely, efficient and safer care if I had access to the information and data I needed at the patient’s bedside? You bet I could, and here’s how!

Tablets!

Tablets provide information access at one’s fingertips – especially at the patient bedside – helping doctors and nurses to render quick, safe and sometimes lifesaving care. This is echoed in Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports calling for direct care providers to have quick access to electronic references. Moreover, up to 70% of sentinel events in healthcare are caused by poor communications, according to a Joint Commission study (1995-2006). Given these findings, tablets offer a new and improved way to ensure patient safety because up-to-the-minute information and immediate communication is readily available where and when needed.

Tablets help save time by increasing mobility and productivity, reducing errors and keeping information readily accessible within the clinician’s reach.

Come on clinicians … no mater if you are a doctor, nurse, respiratory therapist, case manager, educator or another team member … surely you can think of all kinds of ways tablets could enable you to have the information you need when you need it. You and your patients will be all the happier and satisfied for it.

I quickly came up with a short list of ways that tablets, one of several mobile devices, can make a difference for patient care delivery:

  1. Workflow efficiencies by having access to information and data at the point of care
  2. Real-time communication amongst team members while in different locations
  3. Video consultations
  4. Patient education
  5. BCMA and real-time drug interaction checking … possibility for a real-time pharmacy consult at the patient’s bedside via voice or video conferencing
  6. Clinician satisfaction

My questions to you: Have you used a tablet to deliver patient care? If so, what has been your experience – is the tablet adding real value, or is it just “another toy”?

Let us know what you think!

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Scotland and California Governments Embrace Healthcare Technologies

November 3, 2011 at 7:40 am PST

Government support for healthcare (telehealth or telemedicine) technologies continues to gain momentum across the globe. The latest examples in Scotland and California emphasize improved medical care and reduced costs from adoption of technologies such as telepresence, home monitoring and Internet services.

A recent Guardian article highlights a report from the Scottish auditor which urges NHS to consider telehealth when developing or redesigning services. The report sets out a series of questions for NHS boards to ask around improved access, increased capacity, cost avoidance and health benefits. They include: Are any patients unable to access the current service because of geography? Do clinical staff have to do more than a four hour round trip to deliver the current service? Could using telehealth potentially reduce hospital admissions? Hopefully NHS takes this recommendation seriously and starts to make some serious headway on the telehealth front. Read More »

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Human and technology networks vital to improving healthcare

October 31, 2011 at 12:19 pm PST

Healthcare is transforming rapidly thanks to advances in technology and people working together.  This evolution was obvious in Jordan last week, when the inaugural meeting of the country’s Healthcare ICT Task Force took place in conjunction with the World Economic Forum Jordan.

The task force is a collaboration between the King Abdullah II Fund for Development, the Information Technology Association of Jordan (inj@j), and Cisco, and it points to the country’s vision to become a regional hub for ICT solutions in the healthcare sector. Read More »

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