UnitedHealth, Cisco go national with telehealth plans

Cisco Systems and UnitedHealth Group are teaming up to create a nationwide network for telemedicine, marking perhaps the first time a major health insurer has gotten behind remote patient care on a large scale. The network, dubbed Connected Care, theoretically will link all 590,000 healthcare professionals and 4,900 hospitals that contract with United and employ Cisco's HealthPresence audio-visual, medical and information technology that Cisco says will closely approximate an in-person encounter with a physician. The idea is to encourage collaboration among health professionals, promote wellness and preventive care and extend the reach of specialists into shortage areas.

Connected Care will focus on urban and rural underserved communities, workplaces and, eventually, retail locations. The two companies tested the system with 300 Cisco employees in San Jose, CA, and have begun a larger pilot at a Cisco site in Raleigh, NC. One of the first implementations of Connected Care is a partnership, set to begin next year, between Cisco and Project HOPE for a mobile clinic in rural New Mexico to help address a rampant diabetes problem.

For more information and analysis:
- check out this Computerworld story
- view the Cisco press release
- read about the New Mexico project in a press release from Project HOPE
- find out what FierceHealthIT editor Anne Zieger thinks about the deal in her Editor's Corner