Syracuse University and Verizon work to bring advanced technologies to leading Central New York healthcare facility
Syracuse University and Verizon work to bring advanced technologies to leading Central New York healthcare facilityNovember 20, 2001Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
The Community and Information Technology Institute in Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies has partnered with St. Camillus Health and Rehabilitation Center and Verizon on several high technology initiatives that will help St. Camillus both improve its services for patients and residents and extend its reach into the Central New York Community.
The initiatives will be financed by a $50,000 technology grant to the St. Camillus Foundation from the Verizon Foundation. “The Verizon Foundation is pleased to support the St. Camillus Foundation with this grant,” says Tom Owens, director of community affairs at Verizon and a St. Camillus Foundation board member. “Advanced technology is critical in today’s business environment. St. Camillus represents an important healthcare asset in our community, and this will enhance their ability to stay ahead of the curve.”
Teams of faculty and students from the School of Information Studies are working with Kevin O’Neill, director of information systems at St. Camillus, to analyze the center’s existing technology infrastructure and to develop long-term strategies for upgrading the systems and implementing new technologies. Among the technologies that will be implemented is videoconferencing over the Internet using cutting-edge Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology.
Murali Venkatesh, associate professor and director of CITI, says that videoconferencing over the Internet is more cost-effective and more accessible to the nonprofit community than older technologies that rely on dedicated ISDN lines. “Videoconferencing over IP is the technology of the future,” he says. “Our goal at CITI is to help public institutions make well-formed decisions about advanced technology. My students and I are privileged to be able to assist St. Camillus in its forward-thinking efforts.”
St. Camillus officials say that access to videoconferencing will enable the institution to share its expertise and collaborate with other healthcare facilities locally, regionally, nationally and globally. For example, St. Camillus houses one of two brain injury rehabilitation programs in Central New York, an area in which few Upstate New York facilities specialize. Videoconferencing will enable St. Camillus to more efficiently share its expertise, professional development programs and consulting services with outlying areas that do not offer these kinds of specialized services.
In addition to the videoconferencing project, CITI is helping St. Camillus upgrade its local area network, e-mail server and the security system on the facility’s administrative server.
“Making good use of sophisticated technology can allow our staff to focus their attention on the patients and residents,” says Tom Honan, president of the St. Camillus Foundation. “The new technologies will help us run the facility effectively and cost-efficiently. The grant from Verizon, coupled with the consultation services provided by the faculty and students from CITI, will strengthen St. Camillus as we continue to provide quality health care to our community.”
During the Fall 2001 semester, 18 undergraduate students in the School of Information Studies have been working on the technology projects with St. Camillus. Among the challenges the facility faced was obtaining access to a cost-effective broadband link so that the videoconferencing technology could be implemented. The solution turned out to be a local Internet configuration, O’Neill says. The next step will be to layer the VPN technology onto the Internet link in order to establish a secure line for videoconferencing that meets federal privacy regulations, he says.
“The Internet is like a big cloud,” explains Daniel Bart, a senior information management and technology major in the School of Information Studies. “VPN is a dedicated line through that cloud”
CITI is one of six research centers affiliated with the School of Information Studies. The center provides research and development, consulting, technology transfer and educational outreach for the Central New York nonprofit community.
St. Camillus Health and Rehabilitation Center is a not-for-profit healthcare facility featuring comprehensive inpatient, outpatient and home healthcare programs and services. The facility is among the largest skilled nursing facilities in Central New York.