Extending Telepresence & Telemedicine to Patients’ Homes

VIDYO conference between Doctor & Patient (on YouTube)

Jill bought a high-def webcam for her PC when it went on sale for $40 so she could make Skype video calls with Suzie, her daughter in Houston, and keep up with the two grandkids. Suzie has an Apple iPhone4, which came with FaceTime, but she had to install the free Skype app to talk with her mom. That’s because FaceTime and Skype don’t talk to each other.

Jill found video calls so engaging that she got her 85-year-old mom an iPad 2 so she could be included in the calls and see the great grandkids more often by video chat.

As I wrote in An iPad for All Ages, this is an ideal device for aging parents who have never used a computer. It’s also ideal for connecting with healthcare professionals, but not until different hardware platforms can be on the same call, including iPad, iPhone, PC, Mac, television, and enterprise telepresence systems.

I wrote about Video Conferencing for Home Healthcare in March, described the various options, and complained of incompatibilities between systems. Now I’m happy to write this follow-up to say that solutions are on the way. Thanks to the readers who shared their personal experiences and inspired this article.

Vidyo announced on August 2nd that one of the world’s largest telemedicine networks chose their Vidyo platform to expand the reach of telemedicine into patient households. Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) already uses two-way videoconferencing in every hospital and in hundreds of clinics across the province. And OTN has supported more than 134,000 clinical consultations using telemedicine over the past year.

With Vidyo, OTN can extend healthcare beyond traditional facilities to anywhere with Internet access, connecting practitioners and patients via “off-the-shelf” computers and mobile devices and including the iPhone and iPad that Jill’s daughter and mom already use.

Vidyo is one of the first companies to deliver personal telepresence and provides the video conferencing engine behind Google Talk. It resolves most of the compatibility issues that I wrote about previously and does this with a solution that seems cost effective and secure and supports high-definition video over normal Internet connections. It also interoperates with OTN’s existing systems, and that lets physicians and patients each use what they already own and know how to use.

So how does this work from a user perspective?

From what I understand so far, the health practitioner would send a Vidyo meeting invitation via email with a link to complete the call. The user simply clicks on the link to download a browser plug-in and is connected to the video call. If I learn more, I’ll update this post.

For More Info

I compiled this collection of good videos from Vidyo and OTN to explain more:

And here’s some related links:

Legacy and Expanded Views of Video Conferencing in Healthcare (Source: http://www.vidyo.com/solutions/healthcare/)

In a future article I hope to review Mirial, which was recently acquired by Lifesize Communications, and compare it with Vidyo.