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Cisco, GE Healthcare Team On Patient, Equipment Tracking

Cisco also demos WebEx virtual exam technology at HIMSS conference.
Cisco and GE Healthcare Performance Solutions have joined forces to help hospitals better manage patient flow and equipment.

The two companies unveiled clinical workflow collaboration technology that combines Wi-Fi and real-time location system tracking into a single view at the Healthcare Information and Management Services Society conference in Orlando on Monday.

Generally when customers purchase asset or patient tracking technology, they either buy WiFi to track patients or RTLS to track devices and have two separate systems to deal with, said Kathy English, director of Cisco’s Healthcare Solutions. Cisco and GE are providing a single view of Wi-Fi and RTLS tracking on GE’s AgileTrac, giving clinicians a centralized view of location information in busy places such as recovery rooms and emergency departments, English said.

Over 90% of large U.S. hospitals deploy Wi-Fi networks while also using RTLS. Having the capability to stream data from both systems into a single platform reduces the over-provisioning of equipment and medical specialists, and when used to track patients, it improves patient through the medical facility.

Also at HIMSS, Cisco discussed how Emerge.MD's virtual exam technology based on Cisco's WebEx Web conferencing technology is being used by the Arizona Heart Foundation, a cardiovascular healthcare research, education and public awareness organization, and surgeons at Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI), a neurological center, for tele-consultations and online medical clinic programs.

Emerge.MD's OnePlace virtual exam technology and its Consult Accelerator, a virtual patient consultation technology, provide a workflow system and allow face-to-face interactions between consulting specialists, physicians, care teams and patients. The products automate the patient’s experience as they walk through a virtual visit, including a personalized greeting, a visit with a nurse and the physician’s virtual exam. The patient is transferred "seamlessly" from one caregiver to the next while sitting at the computer, English said.

Patients tell Cisco they prefer televisits to personal ones particularly, because an in-person physician visit often means less time with the doctor and less frequent visits.

This technology lets patients be actively engaged in their care, English said. It "allows the patient to put on headphones and listen to his or her heart rate or lungs. While the patient and physician interact through the computer, it engages the patient in a dialogue with the physician, and changes the dynamics of that encounter. It’s much more personalized and proactive, and can influence better compliance after the visit,” she said.

Cisco also announced several new health IT projects, including wireless tracking, collaboration technology, and Care-at-Distance services through Cisco’s HealthPresence. HealthPresence connects medical devices to tele-presence units, which captures data from electronic devices and streams it to the physician.

Cisco also demonstrated its mi telepresence for home consultations. The technology uses HD television and a wired or wireless broadband connection, creating an immersive video communication experience between the physician and patient.

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