Fifteen sites in southern California will soon be delivering primary and specialty care services to underserved residents through a telemedicine program being piloted by Cisco, Molina Healthcare and the state.
The California Telemedicine Pilot Project was launched last week on the Cisco HealthPresence telemedicine platform, allowing physicians to make use of audio, video and data-sharing services to create what officials call a “patient care experience similar to the common medical encounter when patients visit their healthcare providers.”
“Healthcare is in the midst of a major market transition – and technology can make a tremendous impact,” said John Chambers, chairman and CEO of San Jose-based Cisco, which has contributed $10 million to the project. “This public/private partnership between Cisco, Molina Healthcare and the state of California marks the latest in a series of steps we are taking to help modernize our healthcare system and bring about new models of healthcare delivery.”
“The use of video and collaboration has significant benefits for the doctor/patient experience as we know it, and Cisco sees telemedicine as a vehicle for transforming healthcare on a global scale,” he added. “At Cisco, we have a strong culture of giving back, and we are fortunate to work alongside private and public sector leaders like Molina Healthcare, as well as a visionary governor to help propel this project forward and bring about equitable access to cost-effective, quality healthcare services.”
Molina Healthcare locations involved in the project are Mountain Health and Community Services and La Maestra Community Health Centers, both in San Diego; officials plan to expand the project to the University of California at Davis, described as a leader in the development of telemedicine services. All 15 sites targeted for the project are expected to be fully operational within six months.
“By implementing HealthPresence in our Molina Medical offices, our patients will have increased access to healthcare services,” said J. Mario Molina, MD, president and CEO of Molina Healthcare, which serves approximately 1.4 million people – primarily those on Medicare, Medicaid and other government-sponsored programs for low-income individuals – in 10 states. “With this system, healthcare professionals need not be physically present in the same location as the patient. In addition to interaction with their providers, patients will also benefit from interactions with our health educators and dieticians who are not physically located in the clinics. For example, our dieticians and health educators will provide diabetic patients with instruction on controlling diabetes and on how to administer insulin shots.”
Telemedicine isn’t a new concept in healthcare – Cisco’s HealthPresence platform has been in use in pilot projects for two years – but it is seeing advances as the technology improves. Congress has earmarked billions of dollars in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to develop a broadband infrastructure to support telemedicine.
“California is already a world leader in technology, so it makes sense that we also lead the way in applying technology to healthcare,” said California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “We have been laying the groundwork for years with our Broadband Task Force and Telehealth Network and we are beginning to see fantastic results, including greater access to quality medical care throughout the state. What Cisco is doing here with the latest in high-tech approaches and communication is the future of medicine and we are very excited to see such innovative partners work to expand telemedicine connections and medical care in California.”