At the end of 4th grade, 10-year-old Peyton Walton learned that her family was moving 600 miles away. She also learned that she was diagnosed with cancer.

As Peyton began her cancer treatment, doctors stressed the importance of Peyton continuing to attend school in order to minimize isolation and destruction. However, as her treatments became more intense, and it became apparent that attending school daily wouldn’t be a reality, Peyton and her mother Lynn struggled with the limited options given by their healthcare provider.

According to Lynn, “It was important for me to connect her [Peyton] to children and people that knew her before cancer, because then she was just Peyton.”

After tackling many roadblocks with her healthcare providers, local legislation, and school district, Peyton and Lynn were connected with Cisco, and were given video collaboration units to help Peyton learn virtually, from her home or from the hospital. The collaboration technology that helped her stay connected academically also helped her remain engaged and feel included in her social network.

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Peyton attending class with video

“When we got the equipment, I saw how well it worked and how clear it was,” said Peyton’s teacher, Mrs. Krumm. “She’s sitting in the room almost with you…it was very exciting.”

Throughout her treatment, Peyton was able to connect to her classroom at Woodland Elementary. According to Lynn, giving Peyton the opportunity to be included in the classroom was imperative to her health improvement and well-being. Peyton’s doctors took notice too.

According to Lynn, “Peyton’s doctors want to see this as part of the treatment. They could physically see the effects that this had on her.”

Today, Peyton is cancer-free and her story opens up a world of possibilities for pediatric patients facing not only severe illnesses but also interruption of their education. This new model of care could truly transform the way healthcare is delivered and most importantly improve the patient’s overall experience and well-being.

Her story is also inspiration for the countless ways we can leverage technology to drive inclusion and collaboration for people in other similar situations.

To help bridge the gap between the current standard of care and access to schooling, Cisco hosted Peyton, Lynn, and leaders in education and healthcare for a roundtable discussion during Cisco Live US. The primary premise of the roundtable was setting a stage for an aspirational call to action for capturing the potential of technology to enhance the possibilities for pediatric patients facing illness.

Bridging Patient Care with Virtual Classroom
From left to right: Shari Slate, Colleen Krumm (Peyton’s Teacher), Lynn Schaeber (Peyton’s Mother), Peyton Walton, Rowan Trollope, Francine Katsoudas, Stephen Krause

During the event, participants explored the ideal future scenario in which we can regularly connect patients with an interactive educational experience and eliminate the isolation through enriched and immersive collaboration technology.

The day began with inspirational talks from SVP and Chief People Officer, Francine Katsoudas, SVP and General Manager of Cisco’s Internet of Things (IoT) and Applications, Rowan Trollope, and of course, Peyton and her mother Lynn.

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Colleen Krumm, Lynn Schaeber, Peyton Walton and Shari Slate discussing Peyton’s story

The theme of those presentations centered around the need for collaboration and innovation, as well as policy and precedent to allow all patients to receive a similar opportunity for education.

Following the key speeches, the floor was opened up to the attendees to discuss how to achieve this future scenario in which all patients are connected. Conversations were insightful and action-focused, as you can see by this illustration of the roundtable discussion.

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Illustration of the roundtable discussion

If there is one thing that we can take away from Peyton’s inspiring story, is that technology has endless possibilities to improve access to healthcare and education for everyone.

While we still have a long way to go in providing equal access to education and connectivity for all patients, it’s clear that with Cisco collaboration technology and inspiring leaders, like those in attendance, we’re certainly headed in the right direction.


Tapan Mehta

No Longer with Cisco