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7/23/2010
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Telepresence Challenges Medical Practice Models

Cisco finds doctors must alter reimbursement and scheduling practices to gain benefits of videoconferencing.

This week Cisco announced that it has joined with OneCommunity, a nonprofit broadband service provider in northern Ohio, to provide Cisco technologies for projects in healthcare, education, and technology.

OneCommunity will provide a range of Cisco collaborative technology solutions including telepresence, healthpresence, and WebEx services, to select schools and colleges to enable doctor visits to be conducted remotely by video. Cisco's technology will make possible regular assessments of students' health using high-definition video, advanced audio, and network-transmitted medical data.

The announcement demonstrates how Cisco's telepresence technology can help doctors use videoconferencing to have an in-person-meeting experience to quickly diagnose patients in distant locations or consult with colleagues. However, that opportunity can be lost if doctors don't effectively coordinate with their colleagues and patients as they work around using a technology that requires a different physician scheduling model.

In a recent interview with InformationWeek, Dr. Kaveh Safavi, VP and global lead for Cisco's healthcare practice, said that while the lack of a reimbursement model and reduced broadband connectivity in remote locations across the United States are challenges to the adoption of Cisco's telepresence, changing the physician practice model to take advantage of the technology is another significant challenge.

"One of the things we've discovered is doctors have to change the way they practice medicine to take advantage of this form of technology," said Safavi. "We spend a fair amount of our time on that conversation, probably more than people expect or appreciate because they're so used to just buying technology, plugging it in, and seeing that it works."

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