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Strong Networks and Training Help Telehealth Thrive in Rural Areas

June 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm PST

Chronic disease sufferers and others with medical needs who live far from urban doctors, increasingly turn to telehealthto access quality, convenient care.

These patients have set a trend that stands to gain momentum, according to a recent report by the United Health Center for Health Reform & Modernization. As noted in Healthcare IT News, the report pointed to telemedicine as a prime solution to serving rural patients in need.

To support wide rural dispersion of telehealth resources, the report recommended that rural regions expand broadband connectivity, Healthcare IT News said. The recommendation underlies the need for a strong network on which to run telehealth programs. To maximize their benefits, telehealth tools need to operate on all kinds of electronics, including mobile devices—the ability to talk to a doctor from any place at any time is one of the main advantages of telemedicine. As I’ve mentioned before, mobile collaboration that supports applications like video and telepresencedemands a solid network.

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Cisco Takes Next Steps Toward High-Intensity Collaboration

At Enterprise Connect in March, we announced a number of collaboration innovations, including a new telepresence concept called high-intensity collaboration. High-intensity collaboration describes a meeting environment where people can interact with content in ways not previously possible during a telepresence meeting, while still maintaining the highest degree of visual immersion. These features include the ability to annotate on content, move content to any of the three main screens, share content from multiple sources, and whiteboarding on the big screens (future software development).

In March, we unveiled the Cisco TelePresence TX9000 Series, our next-generation, fully immersive room-based system.  At the time, we previewed new features, with a promise that high-intensity collaboration would be fully realized over the next 18-24 months. With the soon-to-be released TX 6.0 software update, we’re about to deliver on some of these exciting new capabilities across the TX9000 and TX1300 product lines, our triple-screen and single-screen immersive systems, respectively.

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Interoperability + Collaboration = The Key to Any or All

Today’s work environment – yours, mine, and everyone else’s — is becoming more mobile, social, visual, and virtual. And there is no one magical tool that covers every situation.  We need choice and flexibility for the way we each work.

Any-to-Any collaboration with an easy-to-use consistent experience is the reality of today’s user requirements. However, many solutions available today are brought together with the use of band aids and chewing gum, making it a nightmare to troubleshoot across the various stitched-together call-control systems. Read More »

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Cisco Extends TelePresence to Rugged and Remote Locations

Not so long ago, OJ Winge unveiled Cisco’s mission to ensure the “Power of In-Person” experience to everyone and high-quality, lifelike video would be delivered to all users and environments in any organization.

Cisco continues to enable and extend telepresense throughout organizations worldwide for any environment. Our latest technologies – the new VX Tactical endpoint, ISDN Link and ISDN Gateway – allow telepresence more deployment flexibility in new locations regardless of environment or connection options.

Cisco TelePresence VX TacticalThe new Cisco TelePresence VX Tactical is a ruggedized mobile endpoint built for “in-person” conversations with other members of their team no matter where they are in the world. Portable and ruggedized, the VX Tactical offers the benefits of mobility through a hard case-style form factor that is ideal for use in military, emergency response, oil and gas, and construction environments where field work is often required. The VX Tactical features a high-impact plastic shell with an aluminum interior frame to provide structural strength, and is designed to be water-, sand-, chemical- and corrosive-resistant. It can be used virtually anywhere – in a Humvee, tank, fire truck, even on an oil rig – so that, anywhere you can get an Internet connection whether it be IP, Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G or satellite, you have TelePresence with you.

Speaking of flexible connections, there are many areas of the world where ISDN is the only option, or where connection to external networks such as V.35 is required. For example, small branch offices of banks located in smaller cities across the globe may only have ISDN connectivity, which previously limited customers’ choices in the telepresence endpoints they could select.  This has kept many of our customers on the MXP platform – but with the new Cisco TelePresence ISDN Link, a  compact appliance that provides ISDN and external network connectivity, our customers can upgrade to our latest products: Cisco TelePresence EX, MX, SX and C Series endpoints. The ISDN Link is a great companion product to the VX Tactical, which is often deployed in remote locations where ISDN is the only connection option.

While the ISDN Link is used for ISDN connectivity with one or two endpoints,  the new ISDN Gateway would act as a network resource for ISDN connectivity for multiple endpoints. ISDN Gateway completes the connectivity for customers with a dispersed network. The ISDN Gateway products support all Cisco TelePresence endpoints to enable a collaborative and secure ISDN network for a HD telepresence solution no matter where the customer is located in the world.

So no matter whom you want to talk to, where they reside, whether they use IP or ISDN, you will be able to connect in seconds and experience HD video.  The solutions continue to support new use cases as we continue to build out our telepresence technology that brings people together anywhere, anytime.

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The Power of In-Person takes Healthcare to New Levels

My last doctor’s visit, I sat in the office for about an hour past my scheduled appointment before being called into the back.  I grumbled about the service, how my time was wasted, and how typical this was of the industry.  These are the things we all love to hate about the doctor; they seem to always be running behind schedule, and they have completely illegible handwriting.  These are also the things we take for granted, living in or nearby a city with easy access to care.

Imagine, however, you live in the rural part of your state, which represents “about 20 percent of America’s population,” and yet “less than ten percent of physicians practice in those communities” according to the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) (2011), linked with the Department of Health and Human Services.  Your complaints would likely extend beyond the waiting room, and certainly carry much more weight. 

With its partnership with Cisco, the Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth (GPT) was able to transform the way their state practices medicine, giving healthcare access to the underprivileged and underserved populations whose needs were being overlooked.  Local doctors can consult with specialists in the city center; children can receive psychological care through high quality video; and a person suffering from a stroke can be assessed by a neurologist in a matter of minutes in order to receive the proper medication to avoid further damage.  

With the power of in-person via Cisco TelePresence, GPT has not only implemented a system that has made the lives of Georgians easier, setting the bar high for healthcare providers across the United States, but they have changed the lives of their doctors too.  Georgia’s doctors and specialists can extend their reach while remaining close to top Universities and research centers, honing their practice to deliver better care.  

 Read more about Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth here.

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