Cisco Blogs

Nurse Aida and the Human Network Effect

March 9, 2009 - 12 Comments

I came off my medical checkup last Friday with a smile on my lips. My cholesterol level was mildly high as were my Glucose levels. Since the testing was random, and I had had a coffee a little while ago, it wasn’t something to be alarmed about. My BMI was a couple of units off from ideal but no cause for immediate concern. Overall, I was a healthy male advised to continue to diet and exercise and this medical checkup was no different from any of the previous ones the last few years.Except it was. Dr.Wilson was in Los Angeles. I was in San Jose on Cisco campus. We were doing this over a Telepresence session at the Cisco Healthpresence virtual clinic, with Registered Nurse Aida doing the honors locally. Now, it wasn’t as if this were my first Telepresence experience and that I was wowed by it. Far from it, being at Cisco, I’ve been exposed to it so many times over the past year or so that I’ve almost taken it for granted. imageIt was like one of those times when your three year old asks you a question about something that you’ve stopped noticing, like today morning’s “why don’t birds have ears?”, that you pause and re-look at things afresh, sometimes from a totally different perspective. And so it was with me this time. Hearing about Telepresence from an excited “non-techie” RN Aida who showed me how Dr. Wilson sitting in Los Angeles could peek into my ear with the probe she had in her hand, or check my skin, while all the time talking about how cool the technology was, made me stop being oblivious to the whole setup and sit up and enjoy the experience. I was her last patient on the Friday, and she had a long day, but we conversed about video, medicine and Unified communications – even as she pricked me for a blood draw observing that I didn’t wince as much as some of the other guys did, and how women were better geared to handle pain than men. She asked me if I was one of the engineers who developed the technology. I told her no. Perhaps I was one who helped subtly market it at some level, but for the most part, like her, I was an user. After she finished taking my vitals, she initiated the Telepresence session with Dr.Wilson, checking with him first on Instant Messenger to make sure he wasn’t on the phone. Dr. Wilson appeared and even as he walked me through my test results and answered my queries and took a no-nonsense approach on my pitiful BMI defense (“sympathy weight gain”), he also managed to troubleshoot a technical glitch from one of the sensors, guiding Nurse Aida to re-calibrate it remotely, including re-configuring a Cisco IP phone while I looked on and was perhaps enjoying a doctor’s visit for the first time.After Dr. Wilson hung up, I thanked her for de-numbing me from technology and told her I’d blog about it. Come to think of it, it is only 10 years ago that I held my first mobile phone, it was less than 4 years ago that I started using Tivo or an iPoD, and it is just an year since I started using Telepresence. Yet I took these for granted. As I drove back home in the Friday commute traffic, I started to relate this experience to how I sometimes take my family for granted and don’t pause to be thankful that I have a lovely wife or a precocious three year old whose inquisitive mind keeps mine sharp. It’s good to re-live the feeling of joy and wonderment that you experience something for the first time. Your first bike. Your first car. Your first love. Your first child. I resolved to consciously stop and “smell the flowers” more often.The spirit of innovation is not only about doing something new or something different. I have come to believe it is also about knowing how you got there. And why. Anytime I forget this, somebody please whisper “Nurse Aida” in my ears 🙂

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  1. I'm lucky to have a good health care systme here in Australia, I hope the USA follows soon

  2. It would be the smartest path on Cisco part to dablle in all industry move!

  3. Sorry if I make assumption that you are Cisco guy.

  4. JD,I think the cost of surgery in the UK will be a tenth of the cost here in the US. My provider is jacking up premiums every year.I hope these solutions drive our health costs down.Maybe you Cisco guys are lucky to get this for free?

  5. This is my first time even hearing about Telepresence"", and to be honest with you I'm amazed by it. I really shouldn't be surprised since we have made so many advances in areas such as teleconferencing, that ""Telepresence"" was just the next logical step. I guess this means that soon, if your physician is set up for this type of technology, you can be half way around the world and get a check up by your own doctor back home. Incredible."

  6. My cousin in the UK had a surgery with the consulting surgeon in surrey remotely directing a robotic arm from a different city. I am not sure if they used a Cisco solution.

  7. @Dr.Wilson: I took some time off to bond with my newborn and was pleasantly surprised to see your comments here. Thank you for taking the time out on this. Am not 100% sure, and need to verify this, but you may be the first family physician to comment on

  8. @Michael: Thanks for your comments. Healthcare solutions is probably more like it than healthcare business. Somehow a part of me still thinks healthcare shouldn't be a business, but a service instead. Doctors marketing themselves is still not legal in man

  9. @Crane_shaw: Healthpresence and such other solutions are really meant to be service-oriented models, which providers opt for carefully studying RoI. As business needs change, and technology continues to evolve, we will continue to invest in innovation for

  10. I did not think that I was that much of a technical person. I do agree that having Aidalyn on the other end of the Healthpresence unit has made my job in working with patient's at Cisco a much more rewarding encounter.

  11. Is Cisco getting into the Healthcare business? You guys are spreading out and locking other vendors out. i suppose you get high margins for these solutions - in general I like the idea especially if you test it out on yourselves as a beta site. Are you still the largest employer in the valley or has Google overtaken you?

  12. It is good to see Cisco writing about human interest stories. I would like to see Cisco collaborate with insurance providers and set up health diagnostics from peoples homes using pc based web conferencing as well. Telepresence is good for high end but I don't know whether everybody can afford it.