Author Archives: Lisa Avvocato

Advancements in video conferencing technology have continued to propel its usage and adoption. Cost of ownership along with different interoperability barriers have decreased while ease of use and scalability have increased.  It’s no wonder that 76% of respondents in a recent survey conducted by Polycom and Redshift Research say they use video solutions at work today while 56% of those users participate in at least one call per week.

Video conferencing is quickly becoming the “go to” tool in business today. Check out the infographic below for other interesting facts from the survey including top dos and don’ts during video calls.

Social collaboration is about the casual interactions among colleagues, business partners and even customers that enable creativity and drive innovation.  When an organization embraces social collaboration, interactions come alive and innovation can explode across the business!

We created the below Infographic to illustrate the power of social collaboration and the innovation that is possible when people are given the tools and environment to work together.

After you take a look at the Infographic, read our new white paper: Driving Innovation Through Social Collaboration.

Social-Collaboration-Infographic-Small

Download Now!

 

This Month in Telemedicine – September 2013

October 10th, 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
In the wake of the Government shutdown, Congress continues to debate several different legislative proposals and provisions. One aspect involves the repeal of the medical device tax which charges a 2.3% tax on all medical devices; including some telemedicine components. The provision to repeal this tax is on the table; however, Capistrant says while this is possible it is not probable.

Bill HR 3077 was introduced by Congressmen Devin Nunez and Frank Pallone to allow providers with one state license to provide care via telemedicine to Medicare beneficiaries wherever. A similar bill, HR 2001, by Charles Rangel would provide the same for VA beneficiaries. These bills will essentially make one license enough for healthcare providers working with federal agencies or federal programs. This will help expand access to telehealth services which can provide numerous cost benefits to both patients and providers.

Greg Harper’s bill, mentioned in the last webcast, to improve Medicare coverage for telehealth has not been introduced because of the shutdown. However, because this is the beginning of a two year congressional session, even if this bill does not get passed this fiscal year there is still next year.

FDA
The FDA has released final guidance on mobile medical applications in an attempt provide clear direction to device makers and application developers as to what constitutes as a medical device and needs to go through the FDA approval process. Their regulatory focus will be on medical apps that present a greater risk to patients if they do not work as intended. Additionally, the FDA will develop a web-based platform for developers to seek advice about devices and situations. This will provide better guidance and make it clear as to when the FDA needs to be engaged and what the provisions will be.

States
Fiscal year 2013 was a very busy year for state telehealth legislation and this year will be more of the same. Much of the legislation that was not enacted last year will be reintroduced in 2014. At the top are the 10 states that had proposals for parity with private insurance companies that were not enacted. These states include Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

In other news, it was reported that an Oklahoma doctor was disciplined for using Skype to treat patients. However, the use of Skype was inconsequential to what physician Thomas Trow was doing wrong. The main disciplinary issues were Trow’s over prescription of narcotics and failure to maintain medical records. In fact, Trow had previously received disciplinary action from the Oklahoma Medical Board (OMB) for over prescribing, narcotics violations, and record violations. The OMB filed action September 12 and 16 and put out proposals that, according to Capistrant, may be over-reaching and affect telemedicine. The ATA is working with the OMB to ensure these new provisions do not negatively affect telehealth services.

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.

The next This Month in Telemedicine webcast is scheduled for October 29, 2:00-3:00PM EST.

Customer Profile: UNMC College of Dentistry

October 8th, 2013 | Posted by Lisa Avvocato in Education | Use Cases | Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

Advancements in video technology have had a tremendous impact on the creation and proliferation of distance learning programs. By integrating video conferencing solutions, universities are able to extend the reach of their programs to students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. Calvin Hughes, Instructional Technologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, talks about his experience with video conferencing and the impact it has had on the University.

IVCi: Can you give us a brief overview of your video environment?
CH: We currently have 5 classrooms that hook up locally at the College of Dentistry. There are also 6 or 7 locations across the state that have Cisco telemedicine carts for tele-dentistry purposes. We started the Dental Hygiene [distance learning] program in 2003 for the West division which currently graduates four students each year. There are currently about 50 hours of classes a week that are transmitted out to the West region. In 2010 we expanded into telemdecine carts.

IVCi: How do you connect local and remote students into one classroom?
CH: The main classroom has a 52” TV on the side of the wall that remote students show up on. They can hear and speak to them over speakers and portable microphones. For students in the west division, there are two screens, one with the professor and one with content, and individual monitors in front of each student.

IVCi: What were the drivers that led you to implement video?

We’re a State University with state funding and Nebraska Medical Center and University are located on the Eastern side of the state. There are some community colleges on the Western side that have nursing programs but nothing with dental programs. We have a duty to try and get dental students out in the field on the Western side which is less populated. If students are doing classes out there, they are more likely to stay and practice out there.

IVCi: What has been the end user (professor/student) reaction to video?

CH: Everyone is pretty open minded about it. We don’t have a problem getting students or filling up the distance classes. Remote students aren’t always as eager to answer questions sometimes but the instructors are good about making sure they participate by asking them questions directly.

IVCi: Can you point to any specific metrics that have been influenced by video?

CH: We graduate four students a year from the hygiene program and that’s four students who might not have gotten their degree.

IVCi: What was your favorite moment using video?

CH: The first tele-dentisry consult was very exciting. We put a lot of work in getting those telemedicine carts in and around the state. The Western part of the state is under populated and under-served by dentists and we wanted to reduce a patient’s drive time when needing to see a specialist. The carts are spread out across the state and allow for easier access to specialists. The initial consultation can be handled over video and a specialist can determine if patients need to come to their office or if their local dentist can fix the problem.

IVCi: Do you have any advice for universities implementing video for the first time?

First, have a good support group of people who want to push the technology. These people can be very valuable when implementing the solution. Also, most of our programs have been grant funded and it’s been hard moving away from the grant funding to be able to upgrade the technology ourselves. Have a plan in place for updates and replacement costs so that funding is in place when the time comes.

Video Conferencing Comes to Banking

October 2nd, 2013 | Posted by Lisa Avvocato in Use Cases | Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

Video conferencing is slowly emerging in the retail banking sector as a way to meet growing customer expectations and combat declining foot traffic in branch locations. There are so many things customers can now do online that they don’t even need to go to a bank. Checking account balances, transferring money between accounts and even paying bills can be done with a few simple clicks on a bank’s website.

As a result, banks need to find new ways to interact with their customers. International financial research and consulting firm, Celent, recently released the report Video Banking: Lights, Camera, Transactions?, discussing how video solutions can be used along with the benefits they provide.

The most practical application is connecting customers to bank tellers and subject matter experts via video at lobbies, vestibules and even at home. Customers can ask questions about their finances, consult with a financial advisor or begin the loan application process with an online advisor. For example, instead of driving to the bank to fill out a mortgage application, a customer can meet face-to-face over video with a loan specialist who can answer questions and begin the application process.

Video banking not only provides increased customer interaction, it can provide significant cost benefit as well. Customers expect a lot from their banks and video conferencing allows banks to keep up with customer demand while reducing expensive branch investments. They can use video solutions to maintain strong customer relationships without having to staff subject matter experts at each retail location.

The Bank of Montreal has implemented Cisco videoconferencing workstations to serve as a customer assistance tool rather than a “do-it-yourself” system. The technology still has a few issues, but they are being worked out. For example, in some instances a customer may require paperwork and paper cannot be transferred through this system. However, the digital teller can help the customer obtain the necessary paperwork and provide instructions as to where it needs to be delivered.

Bank of America had a different idea for the technology and implemented ATM with Teller Assist. This allows customers to experience the convenience of an ATM but still be able to speak to a Bank of America teller in real time via video. These ATMs allow customers to cash checks for the exact amount and receive change, as well as receive cash withdrawals. Eventually, the ATM will allow customers to deposit checks with cash back, split a deposit into two or more accounts and make a credit card or loan payment. With the probable success of these implemented technologies, it won’t be long before other banks begin the process of changing to video banking.

These are just two examples of how banks are using video. Several other establishments have either deployed video solutions or are currently testing the viability. Eventually as technology advances, users will be able to take video banking mobile, and use video conferencing to talk to tellers and bankers through tablets and mobile devices. By using apps, texting, voice conversations and two-way video, banking can eventually go completely virtual. In fact, we might look back one day and say I remember when you actually had to go to the bank to cash a check!