UCSF and Cisco to Create Integrated Health Platform

New System Will Provide Usable Health Data Across Multiple Settings

By Kristen Bole

stock illustration of data network connections

UC San Francisco and Cisco have formed an initiative to jointly develop an interoperability platform for sharing health care information among multiple entities. The platform will be designed to enable health systems, providers and application vendors to share and integrate health data from multiple sources, making pertinent patient information accessible when and where it’s needed for care through a highly secure process.

In the digital age, health interoperability – defined as the ability of different devices, IT systems and software to communicate, exchange and use shared data – will  play an increasingly important role in providing timely, accurate care based on access to real-time patient health data and records.

The U.S. Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology estimates that gaps in health interoperability cost the U.S. economy billions per year. While roughly 94 percent of hospitals and 78 percent of office physicians use certified electronic health records, those records often cannot be accessed by providers in other health systems. As a result, the ONC estimates that one in three consumers remains burdened with providing their own health information when seeking care for a medical problem.

To advance interoperability across the health care industry, Cisco and UCSF will establish a collaborative center at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus. At the center, staff from both entities, along with global health technology leaders, will be able to collectively test and scale the interoperability platform across different devices, IT systems and software.

“Fragmentation of information is one of the most challenging impediments in health care today,” said Michael Blum, MD, UCSF associate vice chancellor for Informatics and director of the UCSF Center for Digital Health Innovation, which houses this initiative for UCSF. “In human terms, the consequences are enormous: the lack of complete information on our patients leads to poor, costly care, delays in diagnosis or treatment, and dissatisfied patients - all due to health information systems that cannot communicate with one another. In this age of apps, social media, and mobile communications, this status quo is completely unacceptable to both patients and providers. We plan to change all of that with this partnership.”

Cisco’s solutions for digital business connect data, analytics, processes and experiences across multiple industries. Working with front line innovators at UCSF, Cisco will extend its digital business platform with health care-specific capabilities to enable the rapid creation and deployment of applications focused at specific interoperability challenges within health care. Cisco analytics will create new insight, processes and outcomes with the distinct ability to compute from the data center to the edge, turning raw data into strategic business information.

“There is a tremendous opportunity to integrate the field of health care,” said Mala Anand, senior vice president of Software Platforms Group, Cisco. “By connecting the data, processes and experiences together across the participants in the health care ecosystem, we have an opportunity to truly transform health care. We’re very excited to be embarking on this journey with UCSF - a leader in health sciences research and patient care.”

A platform of this type is critical to enabling health systems to meet the data-exchange and collaboration requirements of the Affordable Care Act, according to Aenor Sawyer, MD, a UCSF orthopedist and digital health leader who was instrumental in establishing the partnership. This platform also will enable providers to incorporate new and valuable sources of information from outside the clinical system, such as personal health applications, wearable sensors, consumer devices and home monitors, which will be integrated with clinical data to optimize health decisions.

“All of us experience varying states of wellness and illness in our lives and contact many points of care, where important data is generated. We move freely between those points of care, but our data does not,” said Sawyer, who is also a cancer patient. “With this interoperability platform in place, the volumes of health data generated from clinical and non-clinical sources can be integrated and analyzed, resulting in accessible and actionable information and, ultimately, better care.”

The initiative will leverage industry, health care and government relationships, including early industry partners. The platform initially will be piloted for patients at UCSF Medical Center and ultimately extend to other affiliated entities within UCSF Health, including UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals and joint ventures with John Muir Health and Hospice by the Bay, among others. It is expected to expand rapidly throughout the UC system and with other health care delivery partners nationwide.

About UCSF

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences, as well as a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and two top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco. 

The UCSF Office of Innovation, Technology and Alliances led the negotiations with Cisco and will manage licensing activity resulting from the collaboration.

About Cisco

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the previously unconnected. For ongoing news, please go to http://thenetwork.cisco.com.