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Cisco, Walgreens team up on virtual doc visits for employees

More than 3,000 workers in N.C. will access telehealth tech in San Jose

Cisco and Walgreens are setting up a healthcare center for as many as 43,000 Cisco employees and their family members that will offer virtual physician visits via video conferencing and other Web 2.0-enabled tools.

Walgreens will run Cisco's LifeConnections health center at the company's headquarters in San Jose, which will also provide services at the Cisco campus in North Carolina. There, employees and their dependents will be able to get a host of services, including, primary care, physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, vision care, health coaching and an onsite Walgreens pharmacy.

Through Cisco's HealthPresence technology employees at both Cisco locations will also be able to take advantage of the health services via an integrated system of high-definition video, advanced audio, medical devices and collaboration tools.

The San Jose location can serve up to 40,000 Cisco employees and dependents and an additional 3,600 Cisco employees in North Carolina via HealthPresence.

Cisco is already involved in a joint effort with health insurer UnitedHealth Group. The two created a nationwide network to enable video medical imaging, audio communication and health record information to be exchanged between health care providers and patients from remote locations such as retail stores and office settings.

Cisco and UnitedHealth Group successfully tested the telehealth program in a pilot with more than 300 Cisco employees in San Jose over a seven-month period in 2009.

Cisco's LifeConnections health center will be run by 30 employees, including physicians, pharmacists, registered nurses, physical therapists, and others. The facility in North Carolina is staffed by an RN who will assist patients in interacting with the clinical team through the Cisco HealthPresence System.

"We are taking a holistic view of health and wellness and providing employees with the ability to easily and safely connect with doctors and clinicians across great distance," Dr. Nirmal Patel, director of Corporate Medical Programs at Cisco, said in a statement. "By combining Cisco technology solutions with Take Care Health's market presence, we believe we are helping to redefine how health services are delivered."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is [email protected]

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