A doctor in California diagnosing a patient in Africa. An Ohio woman on vacation accessing her medical records from an emergency room in London. A patient’s vital signs being monitored remotely from a hospital on the other side of town. These are all scenarios that just years ago seemed impossible… but could be made possible by Cisco.

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In life, I’m consistently amazed by the astonishing change and progress that can occur in the short span of just one year. In technology, it moves even more quickly. Walking into the 2013 HIMSS conference in New Orleans, it was obvious to me that pace of change in healthcare is accelerating dramatically. The sheer size of the event and the number of companies that attended this year’s conference, each demonstrating innovative products, technologies, or methodologies to connect healthcare providers and patients was astonishing.

The Cisco booth had a great location and was swamped with attendees getting hands-on demos of our innovations in the healthcare vertical, like Cisco HealthPresence and the application of our collaboration suite in healthcare. The booth looked great and the buzz was clearly there. I saw many of our competitors’ booths, including HP, IBM, Microsoft, Nokia-Siemens, and others. The large healthcare companies were also well represented, including Epic, Cerner, McKesson, United Health, Sutter, and others; many of whom are also great customers.

But, the number of small players attempting to address individual niches in healthcare was the most incredible. There were hundreds of them, many with exciting offers. Many exhibitors displayed technologies for electronic medical records, or person health records. Even more declared themselves health information exchanges. Chuck Kinzel had to remind me that just because HIE is on their signage, it doesn’t make them a HIE company. Data collection and data analytics was a very prominent topic, with some of the more forward thinking offers proposing using analytics proactively in health management and even in diagnosis.

This is an ideal area for Cisco to apply our collaboration suite in sharing, analyzing, collaborating and communicating data to enable treatment plans. I spent an hour in the Intermountain Health booth getting several demos of prototypes solutions they have created in their innovation center with partners. Imagine watches that remind nurses to wash their hands when they enter a patient’s room to a body mounted patient monitoring device (waterproof allows for bathing!), that permits the patient to be mobile (at home or in the hospital) and it precludes the need for nurses to wake patients to take their vitals every 2 hours.

These are just a few of the things that caught my eye while attending the HIMSS conference. For more information about how technology is changing the healthcare industry read my entire post. There you will see more about the Internet of Everything – which will bring people, processes, data and things together making connections more valuable than ever. Also take a look at this infographic to see what technology will enable in the coming years.

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Randy Pond

Executive Vice President, Operations, Processes, and Systems