Author Archives: Lisa Avvocato

The benefits of video conferencing are undeniable and technological innovations have made video more accessible and easier to use than ever. Unfortunately, some organizations are finding it difficult to drive usage and adoption of these solutions among their workforce.

We created the below infographic to illustrate some of the key elements of an integrated approach to adoption. This not only ensures more users will embrace the technology but it will also make achieving a great ROI possible.

To dig deeper and to understand some of the best practices and key areas to consider, download the whitepaper as well.

AdoptionWhitepaper

This Month in Telemedicine – November 2013

December 4th, 2013 | Posted by Lisa Avvocato in Healthcare | Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

American Telemedicine Association’s policy duo Jonathan Linkous, CEO and Gary Capistrant, Senior Director of Public Policy, return with updates and new information regarding telemedicine.

Congress
There are currently 30 plus proposed bills before Congress and 2013 has been one of the biggest years for telehealth legislation. The most notable is the Harper Bill which has been previously discussed; the biggest emphasis is getting this bill to the Congressional Budget Office so they can provide their estimate as to the cost savings this bill provides.

Telestroke is a major component which Linkous says can help revolutionize stroke care. Last year over 100,000 people who had a stroke were seen in an ER remotely by a neurologist. While he can’t be sure how many lives were saved, he guesses it was a significant percentage. Unfortunately, the savings associated with telestroke are not necessarily while patients are in the hospital. They come after patients have been discharged since they don’t have to go to rehab or go to the nursing home as much. This presents a challenge for the Congressional Budget Office to quantify the savings of the Harper Bill.

Another bill introduced is Peters H.R. 3507 for TRICARE and all of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). Essentially, it will establish parity coverage for teleheath and it will also make one state license all that’s necessary for physicians to practice via telehealth. Other bills include the Step Act (H.R. 1832), VETS Act, H.R. 2001 and the TELE-MED Act, H.R. 3077 which also support the requirement for only one state license necessary to practice telehealth.

State Activity
A major topic is dealing with internet prescriptions or the ability to prescribe medication without actually seeing a patient in person. There are several state professional regulations and state medical boards that have different rules regarding licensing, standard of care and scope of practice. Since there are so many different ways states are handling this topic the ATA is working on developing a set of guidelines.

Guidelines
ATA is currently working on a series of guidelines and telehealth best practices for remote ICU, burns and wounds, and primary and urgent care. They are currently awaiting review and approval from the Board and should be available in the next few months.

Is Video Right For Your Company?

November 20th, 2013 | Posted by Lisa Avvocato in Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

The use of video conferencing continues to grow as many companies note the numerous benefits that the technology provides. However, making the initial decision to invest in video can be a difficult one. Many executives wonder whether video is truly a necessity or if it’s just a nice to have communications platform. Do the benefits of the technology really outweigh the cost of the technology?

While there are several things to remember when incorporating video conferencing into a business, here are a few key questions to ask when getting started.

Do I really need this technology?
Many companies initially question the idea of implementing video conferencing. Why change what isn’t broken; especially in well established companies that have proven processes in place. Video conferencing can augment many of those proven processes and connect internal members of the organization to suppliers and customers. Increased communication can provide numerous efficiencies and cost reductions along with higher customer satisfaction and retention. Therefore, while video conferencing may not initially seem necessary, it can quickly become an invaluable tool within an organization.

Does it affect my company in a positive way?
While it’s necessary to look at how video conferencing will impact the entire organization, it is also important to first look at how it will impact the work of the individuals who will be using it most often. The goal of visual collaboration is to allow for easier communication among team members. If everyone is two steps away from each other in an office, video may not that important. However, there are many different ways video can be integrated into an organization including conducting initial interviews and providing customer support over video instead of the phone.

Am I going to benefit financially?
Video collaboration has allowed companies to hold meetings and discuss ideas remotely while significantly reducing travel costs and other unnecessary expenditures. For organizations that have several offices, video can increase productivity by reducing the need for travel.  Instead of spending hours flying across several states or even 20-30 minutes driving across town, teams can get down to business and make decisions faster than ever before. All of this translates into reduced costs and a solid ROI for video conferencing.

How do I select the right technology?
After you’ve made the decision to invest in video, sifting through the different technology options can be overwhelming. A VAR or systems integrator can help determine your organizations needs then offer recommendations as to which technology best fits the organization’s overarching goals and budgetary requirements. It is important to select a partner that has experience and expertise in designing and implementing different visual collaboration solutions and environments.

Is everyone on board with using video?
If the executive team isn’t using video, then how important is the technology to the company? Management needs to believe in the technology otherwise driving usage and adoption throughout the organization is going to be extremely difficult. Additionally, it is important to communicate the reason for the investment, as well as, the expected benefits to individuals who will be using the technology.

Every company is unique and similar decisions can produce different results across organizations. Video conferencing however, seems to be a common factor among highly successful companies and the continued use of the technology provides many efficiencies that increase the bottom line. So if your company doesn’t have video conferencing yet, go ahead and take a leap of faith, the results may surprise you!

 

The Evolution of the Virtual Classroom

November 4th, 2013 | Posted by Lisa Avvocato in Education | Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

Distance learning programs have been around for years.  They’re a great way to extend a college or university’s reach to students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. For example, moving across the country or sometimes even the state isn’t feasible. However, with distance learning programs, these students can attend classes from their home and receive their degree remotely.

Over the years the method of delivering distance learning programs has evolved significantly.  The first virtual classroom wasn’t much of a classroom at all. Professors would upload PowerPoint presentations with voice clips attached to each slide and students would listen to each session on their own time. To facilitate discussion, professors could pose questions on message boards and require students to post responses or comment on each other’s posts.  Unfortunately, these classes lacked the interactivity and group discussion typically found in a traditional classroom. Students were unable to ask questions or discuss topics in real time causing an isolated learning experience.

Then web conferencing solutions came along. These solutions allowed a presenter to share content (a presentation) and talk through the slides while participants joined the conference and followed along virtually. This allowed students to ask questions and participate in real-time, making the learning experience much more interactive. However, these solutions lacked the face-to-face interaction common in traditional classrooms which allows students to bond and develop relationships with each other; both of which are necessary to stimulate open discussion.

Eventually, video conferencing began to integrate into web conferencing solutions. Cloud-based virtual meeting rooms were also developed which provided a way for professors and students to interact face-to-face while simultaneously viewing the presentation. This created a more interactive learning environment and allowed a virtual classroom to more closely emulate a traditional classroom.  However, the ability break out into small groups during class or work on group projects still presented a challenge. These services were not scalable and it was cost prohibitive to give small groups of students their own room let alone give each student his or her own virtual meeting.

Acano, a visual collaboration technology that was recently introduced, overcomes these scalability barriers and allows virtual classrooms to truly rival a traditional classroom. Every distance learning student can receive their own account and licenses can be redistributed as students graduate or leave the program. Virtual meeting rooms can be set up for each class and students can be subscribed to the classes they are registered for.  Additionally, professors can set up separate rooms for breakout sessions then subscribe small groups of students.  A list of rooms that users are subscribed to is always available, allowing students and professors to easily switch between different classes and breakout groups.  As a result, distance learning students are able to listen to a lecture while simultaneously viewing the presentation, easily engaging and interacting with professors and their peers, as well as participating in both class and group discussions.

Virtual Classroom CTA

Cisco Collaboration Summit 2013

November 1st, 2013 | Posted by Lisa Avvocato in Cisco | Collaboration | Industry News - (0 Comments)

Last week Cisco hosted their 2013 Collaboration Summit where Rowan Trollope, SVP and GM of the Cisco Collaboration Technology Group, delivered the key note address which included Cisco’s collaboration strategy as well as new product announcements.

Trollope started with memories of his first computer; how technology at work surpassed what was available to him at home. In the past few years though, with the advent of the smartphones and tablets along with Facebook and other social networking sites, technology available to consumers at home has surpassed the technology available at work which has led to a sense of frustration. There is significant opportunity for advancement in the enterprise technology space and Trollope stated that Cisco is working “to make the technology we have at work as great or better than the technology we have at home.”

Trollope also stated that at Cisco, he not only had access to a lot of different collaboration technologies but the opportunity to use them. Unfortunately, the majority of people do not have this opportunity due  to different barriers; a lack of access, cost of implementation and complexity to name a few. Therefore, Cisco is committing to three goals; to make technology easier to use, easier to buy and to bring it all together. By making the technology more accessible, reducing the complexity, and delivering it at the right price more people will be able to take advantages of the benefits collaboration has to offer.

The goal, in Trollope’s words, is to “Make Collaboration Simple” and drive the next innovation cycle. Cisco will do this in the following ways:

  • User experience:  integrating the technologies they have and making them more intuitive
  • IT support: making the technology easy to deploy, manage, and run
  • Partners: making it easy to buy, sell and support Cisco solutions

Finally, Trollope announced and demonstrated a few new products.  Two key themes were cloud and mobility; hide the complexity of technology in the cloud and embrace mobility in the enterprise.  A few noteworthy announcements include:

  • Collaboration Systems Release: Cisco is testing everything together to make sure all components works together.
  • Cisco Expressway: Offers a secure tunnel into collaboration technologies without having to VPN into the network.
  • Cisco Jabber Guest: Turns virtual customer service into a reality by allowing organizations to integrate video into their website.
  • Intelligent Proximity App (currently in testing): Provides the ability for someone to walk into a room and pull the content to a smartphone or tablet. Users can also bring their personal directory with them and use it on the intelligent device in the room.

In closing, Trollope said “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” The products being unveiled represent a new direction in collaboration technologies and I, for one, can’t wait to see what they come out with next!

Watch the full replay of Trollope’s speech here.