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Cisco Collaboration Comes to the Rescue for INTEGRIS Health

More than 20 years ago when INTEGRIS Health chose to invest in collaboration technologies, little did they know they were making a decision that would one day save lives.

With more than 16 hospitals and 9,000 employees throughout Oklahoma, INTEGRIS is the state’s largest health care system. An early adopter of telemedicine, they implemented video technology in the early 1990s. But what started simply as an effective way to connect hospitals has grown into a life-saving program that has decreased stroke mortality rates and increased access to health specialists.

What’s INTEGRIS’ secret? A team of top medical professionals armed with Cisco’s leading edge collaboration technologies. Solutions like Cisco TelePresence and Cisco Jabber allow two-way, interactive collaboration between doctors and patients to support INTEGRIS’ telehealth programs that treat everything from mental health illness and speech impairments to stroke and Hepatitis C patients.

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Telehealth Takes Center Stage

January 31, 2013 at 9:43 am PST

As my colleagues just wrapped up participating in the 2-day World Congress Telehealth Executive Summit and are preparing for the 6th Annual Community for Connected Health Summit at HIMSS13, I’ve been thinking even more about telehealth technology and how far it has come since my first exposure to it almost almost thirteen years ago.

The technology has made amazing strides, and with healthcare costs on the rise, it’s no surprise government agencies and other organizations are looking to the technology to curb health costs while increasing the efficiency and quality of care.

Telehealth technologies, such as Cisco’s HealthPresence (and version 2.5, just announced this month), can increase access to specialized care and allow medical specialists to conduct virtual consultations. By leveraging technologies and solutions like Unified Workspace and cloud, telehealth has real potential to transform the delivery of healthcare.

Realizing the power of connected healthcare, House Representative Mike Thompson introduced a telehealth bill in late December. If passed, Telehealth Promotion Act of 2012 could extend telehealth benefits to more than 75 million Americans by removing two existing barriers--licensure and reimbursements.

…and the support for telehealth keeps going.

The Federal Communications Commission recently announced that it will allocate $400 million a year to expand existing telehealth pilot program. The funds will help increase connectivity between urban medical centers and rural clinics to better coordinate care and lower costs among other benefits.

With more organizations realizing the potential of telehealth technologies, it’s clear we may soon see it take center stage. Where do you see telehealth having the greatest impact on government and the public sector?

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Who Cares About The Network When Collaborating?

You are probably thinking that the title of this blog seems a little bizarre given that I work at one of the largest networking companies in the world.  The truth is I felt compelled to write about the role of the network in today’s collaboration solutions because the importance of the network is not always apparent and well understood.

A good example of how network-enabled collaboration solutions can be used is that of a hospital or healthcare organization.  The hospital is only as good as its network of services, providers and the accompanying medical infrastructure that support the organization —  they all leverage each other in various different ways.  Physicians can take advantage of mind share and resources and have information at hand from different sources to make the right decisions.  This is what enables doctors and nurses to perform their best work and provide top quality care to the people they serve.

Collaboration technologies and solutions make that collaborative work environment a reality and aid in the diagnosis and care of patients — in some cases even being able to remotely provide medical care by a specialist that may be located half way around the world. The importance of the underlying network in this instance is critical to both physicians and patients alike.  How would the network have any effect on the use of interactive video in telemedicine? Well, let’s think of it from the experience point of view. What would the consequences be for a patient if the video stream they were using in a telemedicine consult was choppy or grainy and the doctor couldn’t get just the right view of the patient to make the right diagnosis?  Let’s just say I would not want to be the patient in this scenario.  A sub-par experience would be unacceptable because even minor details can have an enormous impact on a diagnosis or treatment plan. These collaborative exchanges are what ultimately give the patient the best experience and outcome possible for their individual treatment. A strong network foundation is critical to the delivery of the service and experience in this instance.

Collaboration technologies gaining significant traction in the enterprise today include streaming video, web conferencing and other forms of interactive and dynamic communications — known as rich media.  The reason for the uptick in their use is that they offer the most life like, “in-person” collaboration experiences possible today.  That is what people want and what ultimately drives them to be more engaged with one another.  As described above, the network is critical to the delivery of these types of media.   Not just any network architecture will suffice.  A network-based architecture optimized for rich media such as Cisco (medianet) provides the intelligent services needed in order to scale, optimize and enhance the performance of voice, video and data – all critical to the delivery of the collaboration experience.

What does this mean?  Read More »

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Treating Patients Anywhere, Anytime with Telemedicine

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By Jason Kohn, Contributing Columnist

Modern medicine has brought some amazing technological advances. But at the end of the day, the most powerful medical tool remains the old-fashioned one: expert clinicians with the knowledge to evaluate, monitor and care for patients.

The problem: how do you get medical expertise to all of the places it’s needed? One growing answer: Telemedicine.

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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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