News Release

Cisco, West Coast District Health Board and Gen-I Announce First Cisco HealthPresence Trial in New Zealand

Grey Base Hospital in Greymouth to Support Buller Health in Westport in First Patient-Care-Delivery Solution of Its Kind
Jul 09, 2008

GREYMOUTH, New Zealand, July 9, 2008 – Cisco New Zealand, the West Coast District Health Board (DHB) and Gen-i today announced an agreement to deliver the first global trial of Cisco® HealthPresence between two organisations, Buller Health in the town of Westport and Grey Base Hospital, about 100 kilometres away in Greymouth. Cisco HealthPresence is a new solution developed by the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), Cisco's global strategic consulting arm.  This trial will help enable medical providers in two remote locations to better scale resources and provide patients with more convenient access to medical care.

While operating Cisco HealthPresence between Grey Base Hospital and Buller Health, the pilot programme will be assessed for patient and caregiver satisfaction.  It is designed to be available to other New Zealand communities in need of timely health care support.

Dr. David Galler, Principal Medical Advisor at Ministry of Health, said: "This is all about helping health professionals do the right thing for patients and the planet.  There is huge potential to integrate front line services with the expertise of a multidisciplinary team.  This pilot will help us better understand how to deliver the benefits to patients."

Cisco HealthPresence provides a lifelike 'face to face' experience for patients and caregivers who may be hundreds of kilometres apart by combining state-of-the-art video, audio and call centre technology over a highly secure network. The solution interfaces with a variety of medical diagnostic equipment, such as stethoscopes and otoscopes, and can monitor vital signs (for instance, blood pressure, temperature, pulse, oximetry). An attendant in Westport will assist the patient and operate the medical devices on behalf of the remotely located medical practitioner at Grey Base Hospital and keep the Cisco HealthPresence unit maintained.

Kevin Hague, Chief Executive Officer of the West Coast District Health Board, said: "West Coast DHB is a centre of excellence in the delivery of rural health services. We are dedicated to providing the best possible patient care to the 32,000 people we assist, despite the challenges of serving some of the most remote areas of New Zealand. We have been collaborating with Cisco to generate innovative ideas to solve some huge challenges. Innovative technology such as Cisco HealthPresence allows us to break down the barrier of distance and provide direct support from Greymouth Hospital to Buller Health."

The use of Cisco HealthPresence will allow some patients to be assessed by specialists without the need to travel, reducing patient transfers and related travel costs. Specialists using this technology can potentially see more patients than they previously could, as they won't need to spend as much time travelling to and from remote locations. This has benefits for both the patient and the environment.

Dr. Rodger Mills, the head of Emergency Department, Grey Base Hospital, said: "We envisage that this will provide backup support for existing services at Buller and enable good collaboration between health professionals at both sites. Usage of the system will require innovative thinking, and its scope of usefulness will become evident as the trial progresses. This technology is leading-edge and reflects positively on the lead that the West Coast DHB is taking in promotion of excellence in rural health".

Geoff Lawrie, country manager of Cisco New Zealand, said: "By using the network as a platform, Cisco has a key role to play in the delivery of safe, affordable and accessible healthcare. Our collaboration with the West Coast DHB and Gen-i has helped us evolve our innovative approach for delivering important healthcare services to patients in relatively remote areas such as Westport."

Nick Augustinos, Global Healthcare Solutions director for Cisco IBSG said: "The future of healthcare delivery is one which will transcend traditional geographic and resource boundaries. Cisco HealthPresence is poised to transform the healthcare ecosystem - from providers to practitioners to patients."

Cisco will work with the West Coast DHB to help provide all necessary Cisco HealthPresence equipment and associated services, while the DHB will contract with Gen-i as the local delivery partner and network integrator. In the initial stages of the trial, Kordia will deliver the network to Gen-i.

Jo Allison, general manager of marketing and strategy for Gen-i, said: "As a leading provider of information, communications and technology solutions for the New Zealand health sector, we are delighted to be working with Cisco and the West Coast DHB to bring this new capability to the west coast community. These solutions provide medical practitioners with improved access to support and expertise, helping to ensure that patients receive timely, effective and safe delivery of healthcare."

About West Coast District Health Board

With 32,000 people spread over 24,000 square kilometres, West Coast DHB is New Zealand's most rural and most sparsely populated District Health Board. The territory covered by the DHB is approximately 650km in length (equivalent to the distance from Auckland to Wellington). The DHB is bordered on the west by the Tasman Sea and on the east by the rugged Southern Alps.  

There is no doubt that the sort of support offered by Cisco HealthPresence will make services more sustainable and more resilient to fluctuations in workforce availability and patient demand.

About Gen-i

With over 170 people focused on healthcare solutions, Gen-i is one of the largest providers for the health and disability sector in New Zealand. Gen-i works alongside its 3,300 corporate, government and business clients to deliver seamless and integrated ICT solutions. A member of the Telecom New Zealand Group, Gen-i achieves this with the support of 3,300 highly skilled people in 17 locations across New Zealand and Australia. For more information on Gen-i, visit