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Cisco Systems Takes Telemedicine From Coast to Coast

Using its own system, the California technology company takes care of employees at its headquarters and in North Carolina. In India, employees at four locations can access care through the Bangalore office.

August 9, 2012

Through the use of telemedicine, Cisco Systems Inc. has found a way to deliver quality health care to its employees around the globe.

Those who work for the company in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, can tap into the expertise of physicians at the company's headquarters in San Jose, California, and those in India can access health care provided at the company's office in Bangalore.

Using this type of technology has vast benefits, says Dr. Nirmal Patel, Cisco's director of corporate medical programs. "There's a direct savings in health care costs, early intervention and increased access to care."

Cisco has put its expertise in technology into practice, developing its own system called HealthPresence. It can be used to bring together the patient and physician using high-definition video. Or a nurse in North Carolina can work in conjunction with a doctor in California to perform such tasks as measuring employees' blood pressure and monitoring heart rate, allowing a complete clinical evaluation, Patel says.

Telemedicine can be used to treat about 90 percent of conditions normally addressed by a primary care physician, such as respiratory ailments and rashes, Patel says.

By using telemedicine, Cisco employees don't have to spend an hour or two away from work to visit their doctor. Instead, appointments take place at the workplace and last 20 to 30 minutes, she says.

In India, doctors at the company's Bangalore office health center provide care to employees at three other Cisco locations in the country.

Having the technology available saves the company about 10 percent to 15 percent in health care costs each year, Patel says.

"It allows us to scale our resources," she says. "Five physicians [in California] can render primary care services without hiring a full-time doctor in North Carolina."

Susan Ladika is a writer based in Tampa, Florida. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.