Rethinking Healthcare

Connected Care combines business and politics

Posting in Healthcare

The event was scheduled to have maximum impact on two ongoing political debates, one the "meaningful use" debate concerning health IT, which could bring Cisco millions in stimulus money, the other the larger debate on health care reform, which is directly threatening United Health's business model.

Cisco and UnitedHealth unveiled a tele-medicine service called Connected Care in Washington, D.C., at the center of both the health and health IT reform debates.

The service is a branded version of Cisco's HealthPresence, a telemedicine product which seeks to replicate an office visit using network technology.

The press conference, at the Botanical Garden across from the Capitol, was confronted by Single Payer Action, a political group advocating a single payer health system, but this had no impact on the glowing reports delivered on the conference by the business press.

One Cisco pilot was done in Aberdeen, Scotland, which is served by a single-payer system.  The other pilot was done at Cisco's headquarters.

The event was scheduled to have maximum impact on two ongoing political debates, one the "meaningful use" debate concerning health IT, which could bring Cisco millions in stimulus money, the other the larger debate on health care reform, which is directly threatening United Health's business model.

UnitedHealth pushed the Cisco plan as the best way to get care to underserved communities. Cisco's agenda is to sell gear for use by hospitals, clinics and at-home.

The big problem with reform, however, is not technology. It's the current market, which features a limited number of primary care physicians, and a host of specialists who have invested heavily in clinics and imaging centers to whom they refer patients.

Running people through a remote office is not, in the end, very different from running them through your own office. What's needed are more primary care physicians, and fewer specialists sporting conflicts of interest.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure