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August 24, 2012

Cisco News - Palomar Health and Cisco Join to Make Hospital Experience Better

By Deborah Hirsch, TMCnet Contributor

Hospitals have been making great strides toward personalizing and improving the experience patients have while they’re there. Streamlining check-ins, patient education videos, Robots that lift patients from beds, bring clean laundry and even deliver meds to your bedside. 

But Palomar Health recently took it one step further, deploying next-generation body-worn physiological monitoring technology from Sotera Wireless and Palomar vGO robots, powered by Cisco (News - Alert) wireless networks, allowing patients, families and staff to collaborate via video from anywhere across the globe, according to Orlando Portale, chief innovation officer at Palomar Health.

Palomar has been able to rely on Cisco’s medical-grade network, powered by Cisco Catalyst switches, for critical hospital services and applications, including a platform, co-developed by Cisco and Palomar, which allows physicians secure, real-time access to patient health information from a smartphone or tablet, and the ability to initiate real-time Cisco telepresence video sessions from those devices to allow physicians to collaborate and share patient data.

Through this network, Palomar also provides full Internet access to patients, visitors and clinicians both inside and outside of the hospital, and solves many bring-your-own-device (BYOD) that offer mobile freedom with policy, based on when, where and how users access the network, according to Cisco officials.

Effective communications among care teams, including nurses, physicians and other staff is critical to delivering high-quality patient care. The hospital has deployed Cisco IP phones throughout the environment that nurses carry with them at all times.

The portable Cisco phones receive and route live alerts from the hospital’s vital signs monitors and patient call systems to the right nurse at the right time, ensuring that Palomar’s nursing team is always in touch with doctors, patients and fellow administrators, no matter where she may be in the hospital.

With these tools, healthcare providers can be notified of any change in a patient's health status as it happens or predict changes that may happen in the future, improving in-hospital patient safety and avoidable deteriorations – not to mention the dollars and cents of significantly reducing hospital admission times, according to a report by Julien Happich.

Cisco’s Unified Computing System, which combines compute, networking, storage access and virtualization in one system, allows the hospital to “reduce hardware costs by spending less on both servers and networks without degrading performance; lower operational costs through a highly automated system that requires less manual cabling; increase power savings with reduced network hardware requirements and highly efficient server hardware design; and improve overall system availability and performance,” according to a company statement.

“The new standard for technical innovation for healthcare organizations will be driven by a desire to be more proactive about embracing the early adoption of new ideas and technologies for competitive advantage,” said Portale of Palomar Health.

“Unfortunately, most healthcare organizations across the U.S., have traditionally taken a ‘wait and see’ attitude when it comes to considering new ideas and technology. Palomar and Cisco intend to demonstrate how healthcare organizations can embrace experimentation and the adoption of new ideas within their current organizational structure,” he said.

Hospital stays in the past were pretty much things one wanted to avoid at all costs – constant noise, bright lights, providers jabbing and probing. But healthcare organizations these days are focusing on patient experience, and how it can be made better, including reducing noise levels, providing amenities like Internet access, and keeping hospital staff continuously aware of patient conditions for quick interventions. 

It’s true, no one likes going to the hospital. But at least today, it’s a lot less unpleasant than it used to be.

Edited by Braden Becker

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