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Care at a distance: Connecting the previously unconnected

As more and more provider networks turn to accountable care organizations, a greater emphasis is being placed on telemedicine for care management. At Cisco Live 2013 this week, we’re seeing this trend manifest as the focus of many of our healthcare customers turns to improving patient access to care and transforming the clinician experience.

One such customer is Nemours Children’s Hospital. Today, Bernie Rice, chief of information technology at Nemours demonstrated how physicians and specialists are able to collaborate over distance to examine patients, bringing care regardless of where the patients are located. Through a series of demos, attendees witnessed firsthand the connection of a physician in a hospital directly to a patient at her home, as well as the interaction of physician, nurse and patient all located in three different locations.

The demo illustrated how a remote physician can listen to a heartbeat, receive vitals—blood pressure and temperature— and interact with patients through high definition video. Other capabilities include the ability to view ultrasound images, look into the ear canal and examine magnified images of skin.

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ATA 2013 – Not All TeleHealth Markets Are Created Equal

Being able to participate at an American Telemedicine Association event in Austin, Texas has been a true highlight of 2013. The conference and its attendees were a-buzz with more remote monitoring devices than I knew existed, infinite possibilities to provide “care anywhere,” and a fantastic array of new connections in this growing facet of our industry. Thought-provoking conversations centered on convergence of healthcare and ICT, needs and opportunities for telehealth stakeholders, and telehealth’s impact on treatment and prevention.

ATA 2013 – Not All TeleHealth Markets Are Created Equal A common theme throughout the event was the current state of the industry and how connected health solutions are creating pathways to transform healthcare. This includes things such as workflow optimization, provider and patient engagement, and new application opportunities in the field of care. Telehealth has the power to impact both treatment and prevention in healthcare, which is crucial to shifting the burden of healthcare costs down, and the ability to improve outcomes.

During the event, I was privileged to take part in a Market Watch panel, “Not All Telehealth Markets are Equal,” hosted by Frost & Sullivan. This panel consisted of representatives from companies focused on remote monitoring, video telemedicine, mHealth, and home healthcare. We discussed key differences and similarities between these top market verticals concerning challenges, business models, and future growth.

Each of the panelists were asked several questions:

  1. What are the most innovative or transformative use examples of telehealth solutions you are seeing live in practice, which can impact change and outcomes?
  2. What restraints and challenges are people facing out in the market now especially in terms of realizing revenue growth and potential for telehealth solutions? Why will the future be different from the past?
  3. What are some best practices you have seen in getting patients engaged with mobile and telehealth solutions and actually driving behavioral change?
  4. Would you agree with our (Frost & Sullivan) view of the importance of video telemedicine in leading markets in telehealth, and what realized uptake is being seen in practice currently and what other factors are important to make this work?

Innovative telehealth use

There is a great deal of innovative  telehealth use, but one example I shared involved doctors recording patients’ visits (using Show ‘n Share) and sending a link of the recording to the patients after the fact so they can easily watch it again, and share with family and friends. This represents an innovative and different use of telehealth technology – it supports patients who are likely inundated with information during their visit and allows them to relive their consult remotely. 

Restraints and challenges

Telehealth now encompasses so many different channels patients want to use to interact with their healthcare system – telephone, mobile, social, email, text, web chat, etc. This means health care providers and payers must invest in the proper operational infrastructure to support these consumer connection expectations.  I gave the example of a patient with an illness, who wants to talk to a doctor remotely, and expects to be “seen” within 15 minutes. A payer or provider cannot expect to deliver that specific level of service unless they have a centralized infrastructure that is dedicated to operations. In order for this to be scalable, health systems will have to invest in elements such as contact center, unified communications, secure wireless infrastructures, and endpoints with solutions like Jabber and WebEx. These are just examples of some solutions that can be deployed in order to make telehealth work seamlessly to provide patients with the best remote care experience possible.

Best practices

Many panelists discussed gamification and how it is becoming a tool to engage consumers, as it ties to human nature, competitiveness and camaraderie. I discussed this from my personal standpoint. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategy that healthcare should deploy more because many health systems are being asked to think and act more like retailers in-nature. Healthcare systems need to take a page from companies who have to know their customers well and respond. This requires a strategic shift in how they approach and interact with patients and families, creating an infrastructure that would allow patients and family members or loved ones to communicate and interact with their care professionals via the communication method they choose. A sophisticated CRM strategy and eco-system is necessary to manage this.

Importance of video telemedicine

To drive home the importance of video in telehealth and the need for more efficiency in healthcare, I highlighted the model for primary care. I noted that primary care itself could be more remote and centralized at the same time. This could be a market differentiator for the health systems that deploy such a model, because the cost structure would be significantly reduced. A key technology component that supports this is a call manager feature combined with  remote video technology that looks at hundreds of doctors to determine who may be available at any given time. As telehealth and telemedicine technology begins to grow and be widely adopted, this will be even more important. In order for it to scale and cross organization boundaries, it must be interoperable with different devices and endpoints and be able to connect in any way possible.

One thing is for sure; telehealth cannot exist without the support and adoption of the clinical community.  The only way to ensure successful adoption of new technology is hand-in-hand implementation that’s tailored to the desired clinical workflow and to ensure that clinicians are championing it across the organization.

Learn more about ATA and the “Not All Telehealth Markets are Equal,” panel I participated in. And let me know any thoughts you have about my responses to the panel questions.

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Cisco Grants Strategy Team can help you Secure Grant Funding

Cisco Grants Support Desk at ATA 2013If you visited the Cisco booth at last week’s ATA 2013 conference, you might have had the opportunity to speak onsite with a member of the Cisco Grants Strategy Team.  But if you didn’t, we want you to know that the Cisco Grants Strategy Team is still available to help.

We find that many organizations struggle to identify funding sources for telehealth projects.  The Cisco Grants Strategy Team can help by researching Federal, State and Foundation grant opportunities that align with your organization’s needs. 

The mission of the Cisco Grants team is to:

  • Deliver grant education/training and funding research services
  • Offer feedback on applicant eligibility and project competitiveness
  • Provide targeted grant application and writing support
  • Consult on post-funding project implementations

Cisco also offers a series of webcasts to help you learn more about specific grant opportunities.  Upcoming webcasts include:

Funding Public Health and Prevention Efforts
May 21, 2013
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Join Grants Office and special guests from Cisco as we discuss:

  • Positioning projects for specific grant programs, such as Prevention and Public Health Fund Coordinated Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Program and the Public Prevention Health Fund: Community Transformation Grants
  • Integrating technology and equipment into projects and proposals, including chronic disease management tracking software and other mHealth solutions
  • Examples of previously funded projects
  • Tips for successful community-wide collaboration amongst local governments (public health departments), providers, patients and policy-makers.

Funding School Based Health Centers
July 23, 2013
Register Now

Join Grants Office and special guests from Cisco as we discuss:

  • The latest information on the future of federal funding for SBHCs and their capital improvement projects
  • Specific strategies and tips for positioning a winning application to HRSA through SBHCC or any future programming
  • Writing technology and equipment, such as telehealth capabilities into SBHCC proposals
  • Leveraging national, regional and local foundations for SBHC projects

To learn more about Healthcare Technology solutions and available grant funding, please contact your Cisco Account Manager or Regional Grants Manager at grantquestions@cisco.com.

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Technology Makes Way for Change in Children’s Healthcare

This blog originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

As a parent, we all understand that the health of our child takes precedence over economic concerns, geographic distance, and just about any barrier you can name. Many parents know the stress of finding the right doctor to treat a child’s illness, and the difficulties involved in traveling to see that one specific doctor. For critically ill children, the long wait to see a pediatric specialist can be devastating.

About 1 million children in California have ongoing physical, behavioral, mental, or emotional conditions that can affect their ability to function and participate in activities important to their development and, in some cases, can shorten their lives. According to a recent report published by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, these children with special healthcare needs use more healthcare services than other children and account for more than 40 percent of all healthcare cost among children nationwide, despite making up only 16 percent of the U.S. child population. Though advances in medical care have extended and improved the lives of millions of children, more than four in five of children with special healthcare needs still fail to receive one or more basic aspects of quality healthcare, statewide and nationally.

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Cisco Video Collaboration Helps INTEGRIS Health Save Lives

April 15, 2013 at 10:27 am PST

We’ve seen Cisco TelePresence making a difference in health care. Most recently, it helped connect Children’s Hospitals with the North Pole for the holidays, and now its uses have extended to saving lives.

There are few things in life that are more important than your health and the health of your loved ones. Lack of time has become a major factor in people not seeking out the medical care they need. Therefore, health care providers have had to keep up with this ongoing issue and find ways to ensure patients receive the care they need.

Oklahoma’s largest health care system, INTEGRIS was one of those providers. Faced with the challenge of delivering the quality they desired, INTEGRIS was looking for an effective way to connect hospitals throughout the area to increase employee collaboration and improve patient care. With the help of Cisco collaboration technology, Cisco TelePresence and Cisco Jabber, INTEGRIS has established a life-saving program that has decreased stroke mortality rates and increased access to health specialists.

Read more on how INTEGRIS is leveraging Cisco to drive innovation in health care: “Cisco Collaboration Comes to the Rescue for INTEGRIS Health.”

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