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Polycom is giving its RealPresence telemedicine solution some legs.
The San Jose, Calif.-based developer of video teleconferencing solutions has unveiled a mobile cart at the American Telemedicine Association's mid-year conference that's designed to push its solutions beyond the desktop and wall-mounted TV and into remote clinics and patient rooms. The Polycom RealPresence Practitioner Cart 8000 is built on a mobile cart platform designed by Rubbermaid Healthcare, a mainstay in the mobile medical cart business since 2003.
"Healthcare reform and cost-cutting initiatives are accelerating the adoption of telemedicine as providers seek to deliver quality care to underserved populations but without the expense of transporting patients to large medical centers or sending specialists into the field," said Ron Emerson, Polycom's global director of healthcare, in a press release. "With the flexible, ergonomic design and open standards-based telepresence capabilities from Polycom, the Polycom RealPresence Practitioner Cart brings together the best that two industry leaders have to offer with a telemedicine cart that works seamlessly across today's patient care environments."
"When developing this cart with Polycom, we saw an opportunity to create a highly ergonomic, mobile and versatile platform that uniquely meets the needs of today's very demanding telehealth environment," added Kevin Boyle, business leader for Rubbermaid Healthcare, in the release. "The Polycom RealPresence Practitioner Cart is a world-class solution that gives providers and patients access to the highest quality medical care no matter where they are. Rubbermaid is thrilled to have played a role in developing it."
Polycom is selling the cart for roughly $27,000, and says cash-strapped healthcare providers can gain a return on their investment by looking beyond the usual healthcare uses to wellness and preventative medicine programs, telestroke and teleneurology clinics and behavioral health consults.
That's apparently what the South Carolina Department of Mental Health is doing. According to a press release issued by Polycom in conjunction with the RealPresence Practitioner Cart 8000 news, the SCDMH is expanding the Polycom RealPresence Platform from 21 hospitals to 30 by the end of this year and boosting the service from 16 hours a day to round-the-clock. The department is also providing information to eight other states that are interested in similar programs.
"The use of Polycom's HD video is one of the keys to our system's performance," said Brenda Ratliff, MD, the SCDMH's program medical director, in a press release. "While the verbal interaction between doctor and patient is very important during a psych consult, the non-verbal cues can be even more important. Psychiatrists can learn a tremendous amount by looking for subtle indicators, such as lack of eye contact, abnormal movement or enlarged pupils. HD video is helping us provide the best possible treatment for our patients."
State officials said the department has installed Polycom RealPresence HDX 4000 Desktop Systems in physicians' offices and is deploying the new carts to patient rooms at participating hospitals.
"Our telepsychiatry consultation program is focused on accelerating the initial treatment for patients to improve health outcomes and reduce the length of hospitalizations," said Ed Spencer, director of the SCDMH's Telepsychiatry Consultation Program, in the release. "This enhances the treatment experience for patients and their families, and it provides significant cost savings for taxpayers by shifting more treatment to outpatient care. Polycom video solutions help us achieve our emphasis on community-based care and our ongoing efforts to reduce rehospitalizations."
According to state officials, prior to installing the Polycom system, a person admitted through a hospital's emergency department for a mental health issue was hospitalized for five or six days, whereas 43 percent of those admitted now are discharged the same day. In addition, the department has conducted more than 12,000 video consultations, reducing the cost-per-patient-episode by more than $1,800 and saving the state more then $21.7 million in treatment costs.
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