Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cisco Promotes Health TelePresence

Cisco introduced its "HealthPresence" patient care delivery concept that combines Cisco TelePresence and medical devices to enable caregivers and patients who may be miles apart to interact in a clinical setting. The company said that pilot programs it has conducted in Aberdeen, Scotland and San Jose, California has found that more than 90 percent of the patients were satisfied with the remote care experience and would recommend it to others.

Cisco and UnitedHealth Group also announced plans to build the first, nationwide telehealth network delivering healthcare services to rural and underserved areas. UnitedHealth Group's national care provider network, including 590,000 physicians and care professionals and more than 4,900 hospitals, combined with Cisco's video conferencing and other collaborative network technologies, will help connect patients more easily with primary care physicians, specialists and hospitals. Connected Care will make clinics available in the workplace, as well as in rural and retail locations. In-home visits using similar technology will also be introduced to bring care to the patient. UnitedHealth Group has committed tens of millions of dollars toward the new initiative.

By using a live high-quality video collaboration and secure telemetry, Cisco said its HealthPresence solution can help a remote physician evaluate patients based on physiological data derived from a variety of medical devices such as a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter and other diagnostic equipment. Each Cisco HealthPresence unit is staffed by an attendant trained to operate the medical devices under the instructions of the remote health care professional, who may be hundreds of miles away.

Cisco HealthPresence combines Cisco TelePresence, a live, real-time solution that delivers face-to-face interactions over the network, with call center-like technology and a highly secure telemetry network to deliver medical services at a distance, similar to what one experiences during an in-person visit to a doctor's office.

Pilot users of the system include the Scottish Centre for Telehealth and the National Health Service, which are continuing to test Cisco HealthPresence at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in Scotland to provide a remote clinic experience for patients with non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

In California, the UnitedHealth Group (UHG) and Cisco, in partnership with HealthCare Partners began a pilot of Cisco HealthPresence with Cisco employees at Cisco's San Jose headquarters in October 2008 to determine its usefulness as an alternative to in-person doctor's visits. UHG coordinated the administrative processes for the visits to include scheduling, physicians' payments, the coordination of benefits, and the network availability of clinical services.

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