Cisco Cius Android Tablets Go to Work on San Diego Hospital Private Cloud

Cisco Cius tablets running on a San Diego hospital's private mobile cloud allow doctors to monitor patients' vital signs, study radiology images and view EHRs.

In advance of the July 31 launch of the Cisco Cius enterprise Android tablet, Palomar Pomerado Health System in San Diego has deployed the Cius in a pilot trial to enable doctors to access mobile health applications from a private cloud.

Palomar has built a set of applications called MIAA (Medical Information Anytime Anywhere). MIAA allows physicians to view electrocardiogram wave forms, heart rates and other vital signs. Doctors can also study EHRs and radiology images.

"All of those things you would see on the monitor connected to a patient, we can now present that out to a Cius device in real time," Orlando Portale, chief innovation officer for Palomar, told eWEEK.

The 7-inch Android touch-screen features swipe gestures that enable easy scrolling through images and records, Portale added.

MIAA incorporates a vital signs monitoring system from Sotera Wireless, a startup company funded by Intel and Qualcomm. Patients wear sensors that send information wirelessly to the MIAA applications on the Cius.

To date, Palomar has rolled out 15 to 20 Cius tablets to doctors, with another 30 to 50 units to be distributed soon, Portale said.

On its back end, MIAA incorporates Cerner's Millennium EHR (electronic health record) application, from which doctors can pull data in real time from Cerner's servers. MIAA also pulls EHRs from the VistA platform run by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Palomar decided to work with Cisco because of the company's enterprise security capabilities, Portale said. The Cius allows enterprise users to log in to a VPN, and the IT departments can wipe the device if necessary, Portale noted.

In addition to the enterprise-level security of the Cius, the health system prefers the Android's open platform to the consumer-focused Apple iPad.

"You can really innovate on the platform any way you want, whereas with Apple it's very closed and proprietary," he said.

Cisco's AppHQ platform, introduced June 29, may host Palomar's cloud-based MIHH apps. The enterprise IT vendor performs validation testing on all AppHQ applications and evaluates their interoperability.

In addition to allowing companies to manage applications, AppHQ serves as a private online storefront for enterprise Android users. Palomar would use AppHQ to roll out new features to doctors' tablets.

Palomar makes use of the voice and video collaboration tools of the Cius for telehealth. With the tablet's ability to run Cisco applications such as TelePresence, WebEx meeting applications, Cisco Quad social software and Cisco Jabber messaging, it's equipped to hold telehealth sessions between doctors and patients.

"Not only can the physician view all of this data in real time, but then they can kick off a video-conferencing session from their tablet," Portale said.

Doctors can use the Cius inside or outside the hospital. "If they were to get a call from a patient in the middle of the night, they'd be able to start up their Cius, kick off our apps, get authenticated in and be able to view all of the patient information," he said.

In another scenario, patients may be in a hospital's intensive-care division communicating electronically with doctors located outside the hospital.

Although the Cius' enterprise security features appealed to Palomar, hospitals are widely adopting iPads for enterprise use, with 75 percent of physicians preferring the Apple mobile products, Manhattan Research reports.

The version of the Cius available on July 31 will be WiFi only, but Cisco plans a 4G version on Verizon and AT&T networks for the fall.

The Cius will sell for less than $750.

Meanwhile, on July 7, benefits-management company CareCore National announced CareCore TouchMed, an application for the Cius tablet to streamline how physicians obtain prior authorization for diagnostic tests. Doctors can then share the data with insurers from the exam room.