Everyday we’re bombarded with seemingly unsolvable issues: healthcare crises in developing nations, struggling education systems, natural disasters that displace thousands or even millions of people. Delivered via 24-hour cable news, our Google newsfeed, or smart phone news apps, it’s easy to feel like the issues are too big, and you are too small to make a meaningful impact.

After attending the 2012 Social Innovation Summit this week, it was abundantly clear that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The Social Innovation Summit brings together top executives and thought leaders from around the globe to discuss opportunities for leveraging technology & innovation to affect social change.

A common theme throughout the summit was the power we all have to make a difference by pushing the limits of innovation to solve the critical problems that are affecting our communities today.

From combating global poverty and enabling at risk youth, to championing the innovations of student developers of mobile apps and digital stethoscopes, thought leaders from around the globe gathered to discuss, listen and learn about phenomenal social innovation initiatives that are transforming the norm around the world.

Dr. William Kennedy a board-certified pediatric urologist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital shared his views on Healthcare in the Digital age and how he is using Cisco TelePresence technology to help families reduce the cost and stress of seeking specialized pediatric care and allow doctors to conduct virtual consultations with out-of-area patients.

In an interview with Kathy English, Sr. Director of Global Public Sector Marketing,  Dr. Kennedy demonstrated how implementing telehealth technology has transformed the way he delivers care by connecting live with a patient during the summit.  Where traditionally some patients who need to be seen on a regular basis might have to wait for a local appointment with their physician up to 30 days or more, with telehealth technology, these patients can be seen on a weekly basis as needed without having to travel.  For Dr. Kennedy’s patients, the telehealth outreach clinics reduced time missed from work for 64% of parents and school for 47% of children.

Telehealth technology innovations are indeed changing the landscape of healthcare.  By connecting the unconnected the patients’ healthcare experience is improved

  • New care models can be delivered to extend services to under-served population, efficiently and affordably
  • Real-time collaborative care and information sharing between providers improve care experience
  • Patients become active participants in preventative care and wellness
  • Patient privacy is protected and preserved
  • Staff and patient safety is protected

During the Social Innovation Summit it was interesting to see how technology is being used in so many different ways to improve lives in our society and to hear those big ideas of what’s next. Most importantly it was a poignant reminder that we all have a stake to play in pushing innovation forward.  So what are your ideas on technology innovation in healthcare?