Cisco CEO challenges healthcare to change

February 15, 2005

If healthcare is willing to change its process and organization, the future can be exciting, Cisco president and CEO John Chambers told a keynote audience at the HIMSS meeting Tuesday morning.

If healthcare is willing to change its process and organization, the future can be exciting, Cisco president and CEO John Chambers told a keynote audience at the HIMSS meeting Tuesday morning.

"I understand all the hurdles in front of us, but do we have the courage to move?" he asked.

The technological path healthcare could follow was then dramatized in a skit.

Chambers used the stage in the Dallas Convention Center Arena to illustrate how healthcare providers can increase productivity and improve care using applications such as telepresence, radio-frequency identification (RFID), Internet telephony (IPT), and video running across a medical-grade intelligent information network.

Attendees were allowed to peep into Cisco chief demonstration officer John Grubb's network-connected living room while Grubb responded to prompting on a remote patient monitoring node, describing his shortness of breath and chest pain.

"Within each of our homes within the next five years, we should have the capability for wireless broadband connectivity, giving us the ability to gather medical information (blood pressure, blood chemistry, etc.) remotely that we used to have to present at an emergency room," Chambers said.

The data Grubb entered immediately appeared in red and percolated to the top of a list on a screen at his doctor's office, prompting the doctor to drill down further by viewing a recent angiogram of Grubb, pulled up from the PACS.

Voice-over IPT technology and land-mobile radio then allowed the doctors to talk to paramedics as they transported Grubb to the hospital.

Devices could also be carried on our bodies that would automatically call a doctor, Chambers said.

Once at the hospital, Grubb was attended by other new technologies, such as a remote presence robot, while being tracked by an RFID bracelet.

"We are at the right time, where the stars are beginning to line up, where we all understand that the way it's working today doesn't get the quality out that we need and can actually put us in danger at times," Chambers said.

He concluded on a hopeful note.

"For the first time, I think we have both the will and the financial requirement to change," he said. "You are seeing citizens, healthcare professionals, and the supply chain saying now is the time."