HIMSS10 – Cisco

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Michael Tranchina speaks to Kaveh Safavi , Vice President of Internet Business Solutions and Global Healthcare at Cisco. Mr. Safavi discusses Cisco’s work in healthcare, which is usually “behind the scenes.” He explains how information and communication is essential to be more efficient and effective in healthcare, and the need for technology is more critical than ever before. Mr. Safavi reviews how Cisco can assist with the exchange of health information, and Cisco’s involvement in telemedicine.

Category: HIMSS10, Tradeshows
Date: April 12, 2010
Views:4,138 views

Michael Tranchina: Hi, this is Mike Tranchina with EHRtv and today I'm here with Dr. Kaveh Safavi, Vice-President and Global Lead of Health Care Practice for Cisco. Hi, Doctor.

Dr. Kaveh Safavi: Hi, Michael.

Michael Tranchina: Tell me about Cisco's work in the health care industry. We know Cisco has a world-wide name in infrastructure networking but specifically in the health care IT market.

Dr. Kaveh Safavi: That's right, Michael. We have been involved in health care as long as the Internet has been involved in health care but we've always been behind the scenes. And as people in health care begin to understand the fact that both information and communication is a critical part of finding ways to be more efficient and more effective, the need for these kinds of technologies is becoming more critical. And in that journey, Cisco is also trying to find ways to become more important and a deeper part of how health care professionals find people, find the resources they need to do their work, find the information they need to do their work as well as to help patients get an experience that's more personalized and more accessible.

Michael Tranchina: Now, we are in the process of moving from paper-based to electronic health records and of course, that move requires a lot of network support and equipment and there are many practices that have made that move and some that haven't. How is Cisco working with those that have not made that move yet as well as those that have already installed their equipment and maybe need to upgrade and improve their infrastructure?

Dr. Kaveh Safavi: We are at a very important time right now because government policy is doing things to encourage the adoption of electronic health information. There's really two parts to that. There's the collection of information and there is the connection or the movement of that information to others who need that information to work. Cisco's role is primarily focusing on the exchange of information. That requires, of course, the information to be collected. So we partner with a number of organizations that are now making EHRs or repositories available in allowing that to be useful to other people. That's really the role that we're playing now, is in connecting that investment.

Michael Tranchina: Now, there's a lot of talk about the buzzword telemedicine. Tell me about Cisco's role in that move towards that remote servicing of patients.

Dr. Kaveh Safavi: One of the things that we know for sure is that the demand for health care expertise is greater than the supply. And one of the only ways that we can allow that need to continue to exist without having a problem with service is to find ways to create greater capacity with our existing resources. So it became clear to us that technology was going to be one of the ways to take scarce resources and make them more widely available. Along those lines, the concept of telehealth or the ability for a doctor and a patient to have a visit without being physically proximate was very much part of our competencies. We'd been thinking about how to allow businesses to function with their colleagues without travel and those sorts of things. So we thought about communications technologies like video technology, like collaboration and communication technology that allow to exchange information, those sort of things and combine that into the first Cisco health care offering which is called Cisco HealthPresence which you happen to be standing in front of.

Michael Tranchina: Well, tell me a little bit more about this product. How does it differ or how is better than what's already in the marketplace?

Dr. Kaveh Safavi: Well, our goal was to figure out how to allow a doctor's office visit to be extended to the farthest possible distance but still be a doctor's office visit. So we weren't really competing with a telephone call to the home. Our question was can you get the same experience that you get in a face-to-face visit at a distance? So we focused on several things. We focused on the quality of the doctor-patient interaction being equivalent to a face-to-face in terms of perception - patient and doctor - and also, the ability to put diagnostic medical equipment. So the ability to examine the eyes, ears, nose, throat, take vital signs, listen to the heart; all this being part of it. So Cisco Health Presence is really a doctor office visit done at a distance. There is a broad spectrum of telemedicine offerings that have been available. Most of them have really been an alternative to no care. We were trying to figure out how to create an alternative to existing care that would be good enough to actually allow a physician to safely examine a patient at a distance and not need to feel that that patient has to be in the room with them.

Michael Tranchina: So if you could project where you see telemedicine going in the future - we know where it is now - it'a just kind of a growing, just a new industry. Where do you see it going?

Dr. Kaveh Safavi: I think the demand for it is quite great coming from both the patients and the delivery system but there's going to be a continuum. The term itself can range from email and phone calls to this kind of a full-blown remote doctor office visit to surgery done at a distance. So what's happening is a continuum of options are being created. What we're doing, for example, here is being able to define how you can take the doctor's visit as close to a patient's home as possible. You can't take it all the way to the home because they won't have medical instrumentation in their home but you can take it to their community so they don't have to travel as much because patients want health care on their terms and one of those terms is I don't want to have to come all the way to you. I think you're going to see people filling in a series of choices and it's going to become a bigger and bigger part of health care. If you think about the issue of how you make health care more affordable, one of the challenges is what's the lowest cost model. And technology has always been used by industry to create offerings at a lower cost and health care providers are going to start thinking about the alternative to bricks and mortar might be doctors in the clinic, remote location, less expensive remote locations and still get the same doctor experience.

Michael Tranchina: Well, Doctor, I really appreciate your time. I'm excited not only about being involved in the HIT industry but as a patient to see how things move forward.

Dr. Kaveh Safavi: Thank you, Michael, really enjoyed it.

Michael Tranchina: This is Mike Tranchina with EHRtv at HIMSS10.

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