These are truly extraordinary times. Technology holds the potential to change the world even more than it already has. The pace of change in our daily lives is accelerating exponentially – every minute, every day. Many are calling this the fourth industrial revolution centered on mobility, where the lines between physical, digital, and biological are blurring. These innovations have led to groundbreaking advancements in artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, the internet of things (IoT). So much more is on the horizon.
We now stand at an inflection point where the technology is no longer the limiting factor in the quest to transform healthcare. Networks are dependable and secure. Mobiles phones put supercomputers in our hands. High speed wireless is everywhere, and there are seemingly endless cloud capabilities. There’s an app for everything, and data is literally flying all around us constantly.
I haven’t always been in healthcare, but many years ago I dedicated my career to it because healthcare is meaningful for everyone. What we do matters. Through healthcare, we can change lives for the better when we solve problems for both patients and caregivers.
Here’s just one example of how technology is having an impact.
Children born with a single-ventricle heart defect typically spend months in the hospital. With parents having to make frequent trips for check-ups and monitoring, too many family moments are lost. Until now. University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, together with Locus Health and Cisco, is the first pediatric heart program in northern Ohio to provide a home monitoring system for families with babies affected by a single-ventricle defect.
Called Hearts at Home, this application allows infants to be closely monitored remotely with 24/7 access to our pediatric cardiology team. This provides more confidence for parents, and significantly more time together, as a family, at home.
Connecting patients at home with doctors isn’t transformational technology. In fact, it can be relatively simple. When technology fades into the background, that’s when the magic happens. That simplicity enables a new mother to be with her baby in her home with the knowledge that she could reach out anytime to the experts to help her, if and when, she needs it.
My first daughter was in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for several weeks with a congenital heart defect. We spent that time at a Ronald McDonald House, just so we could be near. That was 20 years ago, before everyone had cell phones. We only had dial up internet. What Hearts at Home provides wasn’t technically possible, but it is today. I know what it feels like for families that are separated. We can bring people back together through technology.
For babies who aren’t ready to go home yet, new parents can now stay connected with their babies and the NICU team via secure video calls – anytime from any device. Families that are given this capability often check in with their infants hundreds of times over the course of several days.
What we do doesn’t have to be complicated to be meaningful to families.
We are all working to change the way healthcare is delivered – to expand access to healthcare to everyone. It’s not just for families with NICU babies. It’s for giving elderly parents the gift of aging gracefully in the comfort of their own home, for chronic care patients to lead more normal lives, for lifesaving telestroke services, for behavioral health, and eICU. It can be for any time when even just a few seconds matter.
The possibilities are endless. For the first time in recent history, technology isn’t the reason why we can’t do something. I know that because that’s my job and also what everyone at Cisco is working toward every day. Removing technology barriers one by one until only your imagination of what is possible and the willingness to act is what stands in the way. This is why I love technology. It connects people, young and old, and enables the possibility of a healthier tomorrow for everyone.