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Cisco Launches Telemedicine Platform

HealthPresence merges Cisco Telepresence and call center technology with digital diagnostic devices, allowing healthcare providers to assess and treat patients many miles away.
Cisco has released its HealthPresence platform that makes it possible for doctors and other healthcare providers to consult with patients miles away.

The availability of the care-at-a-distance technology was announced Monday at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in Atlanta. The platform combines Cisco Telepresence with the company's Internet-based call center technologies and physiological information gathered by digital diagnostic devices at the patient's location.

People with access to the platform would be able to consult with one or more doctors or other healthcare providers through videoconferencing. In addition, patients could use a digital stethoscope, an ear-nose-throat camera, and a vital signs device to capture and send physiological information, such as blood pressure, temperature, pulse rate, and blood oxygen levels.

An electronic health records system could be integrated with the platform, so patients could view personal information during the consultation. All information moving between patient and healthcare provider is encrypted for security.

HealthPresence pilots have been conducted at Molina Healthcare, two community health centers in San Diego, and the state of California to provide health services to underserved communities throughout the state. Cisco has been conducting HealthPresence trials since 2008.

"For Molina's medical offices, Cisco HealthPresence eliminates the need for clinicians and patients to be located in the same physical location," Dr. Michael Siegel, VP and medical director of Molina, said in a joint statement with Cisco. "Our facilities are now able to reach a much wider and highly dispersed patient base, in order to provide the appropriate care."

The use of videoconferencing, digital cameras, and other technologies in telemedicine is not new. Massachusetts General Hospital, for example, has built a system that enables on-call doctors from their homes to examine critically ill children in intensive care units and communicate with on-site pediatric staff. The system uses real-time videoconferencing and robotic gear.