Author Archives: Lisa Avvocato

This Month in Telemedicine – April 2013

April 30th, 2013 | Posted by Lisa Avvocato in Healthcare | Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

April’s This Month in Telemedicine by the American Telemedicine Association, hosted as always by Jonathan Linkous, Chief Executive Officer, and Gary Capistrant, Senior Director of Public Policy discussed state and federal updates, collaborations, and quality assurance.

State Licensure Remains a Hot Topic
Gary Capistrant went over the basic situation of licensure, including a proposal that would let Medicare recipients to (virtually) cross state lines for care but would impose a requirement that the patient and doctor have a previous relationship, i.e. an initial consultation in person has to occur. While some states do allow that a legitimate patient-doctor relationship can be established via video, this proposal does not recognize that and could be a “step backward” for telemedicine, plus require states to enforce a prior relationship where they hadn’t done so before.

“In terms of our principles on licensure, we want to be regulated the same as in-person services, not held to a higher standard or a lower standard,” said Capistrant. The ATA has set up a petition. Also, some states are deciding that telemedicine needs regulating but are doing so by treating it as a separate health service, even though telemedicine was already active under the current medical regulations.

State Activity
Three states have enacted full parity with private insurance: Mississippi, plus Medicaid and state employee benefits; Montana, including parity with private; and New Mexico. Connecticut and Missouri passed parity bills in Senate, which are now moving to their respective Houses. New York recently introduced a parity bill, and Ohio will soon follow suit.

ATA is finalizing state best practices guidelines for home telemedicine and remote monitoring, and in the works: school-based care, telemental health, and more.

Federal Action
A workgroup was recently announced, a joint effort between the FDA, FCC, and Office of National Coordinator. A report is due in January 2014 examining the overlap of some issues that are overseen by the various agencies, including consumer health devices, electronic health records, and clinical decision support.

“It’s a little bit of a mess right now in terms of the regulation and one of the reasons they have this is group is because there’s a little bit of uncertainty amongst the different agencies over who’s taking the lead on what,” explains Linkous.

Quality Assurance
A big area of activity for ATA is quality assurance, which, although it’s flown under the radar somewhat, is getting plenty of attention now. ATA’s next board meeting will see the approval of the organization’s practice guidelines for online video-based telemental health. “A very important role for ATA is to weigh in and try to get some meaning and some semblance of order to what’s happening,” says Linkous.

ATA’s board has also approved the move towards ATA becoming an accrediting body with the end goal of becoming a reliable information source for consumers. They’re also involved with some trade associations to improve consumer awareness. Linkous: “It’s important that consumers know that if you’re not getting access to telemedicine, you could and you should and you need to ask your doctor about it.”

Next year, look for a cohesive effort by patient and consumer groups to expand telemedicine, including physician communications, consultations, lab results, etc., which should all be accessible online by patients.

The Q&A: A Selection of Questions Asked & Answered

Q: Define telemedicine, telemedicine, etc.

A: I think we should come up with a contest to see who can come up with the most names that relate to telmedicine. E-consults, e-health, telemedicine, telecare, e-care, telepractice, remote care. About 6 or 7 years ago we had a board meeting in Chicago and we talked about changing the name of the ATA. We talked about what we should change it to…we spent about 3 hours of the board meeting [discussing this] so at the end, we just threw our hands up in the air and left it as it is.

We define telemedicine very broadly as providing healthcare to patients or consumers using telecommunications.

Q: How can companies assist ATA in the process of getting legislation passed?

A: ATA has a Circle Membership and Industry Council and we have corporate members representing anything from large, multi-national, multi-billion dollar companies to a small ma and pa [businesses], but all of them have a stake in this. And if there’s a large corporation that has a Washington office with a staff of people who are full-time policy people, yes, please let them get in touch with us. We’d love to talk with them about what they do. Or if you’re an organization that has a consultant online who does work in Washington, or if you’re a small company in another state and you have an area representative…it’s important that you get very active…There’s always things to do at the state level.

Annual Meeting
ATA’s annual meeting will be held next week in Austin, Texas, from May 5 to 7. For a free exhibit hall pass, click here to register and enter  the code VIPcomp13.

Collaboration technologies are making their way into many organizations as executives realize the benefits collaboration can bring to their organization. In many cases, there is a need to connect groups of people in a collaborative room environment; whether it’s to encourage collaboration on documents or other deliverables, video conference with remote teams, or hold a training session for new hires or policy updates.

They myriad of choices between the technology, room layouts, furniture and more can become overwhelming; especially for organizations designing a collaboration environment for the first time. Here are a few tips to help navigate through the process.

When determine what types of technology the room needs, an organization must first decide what the room will be used for. The majority of functions fall into three categories:

Connecting People
Video conferencing is often used to connect remote teams and the technology typically depends on the size of the room and number of participants. For smaller groups, a single camera with manual pan/tilt/zoom functionality can be adjusted to capture the entire room. Larger groups, however, may need the ability to automatically switch between a panned-out room view and a zoomed-in view of the active speaker. In this case, dual cameras are necessary. In some cases, panoramic room or lifelike views of room participants are needed.  Multiple cameras that capture images from left, right, and center segments are used to create the immersive telepresence feel.

Presenting Content
The ability to present content is standard in almost any collaboration room. When utilizing content sharing during a video conference; it may be necessary to have dual monitors as one is dedicated to viewing remote participants while the other is dedicated to viewing content. In rooms where video conferencing is not needed, a PowerPoint or training video can be displayed with a projector and screen. In some cases, teams may need to create, modify and annotate documents instead of simply displaying them. Interactive whiteboards allow teams to brainstorm ideas or markup documents then send the changes directly to a computer.

Interactive Collaboration
Some environments require the ability to display and collaborate on complex data. This includes high-resolution images, such as blueprints or product designs, where granular detail is necessary. This also includes the ability to display and control data from multiples sources simultaneous. For example, when designing a new product the prototype from one participant’s laptop can be displayed at the same time target markets and product messaging is displayed from another participant’s tablet. Video feeds can also be integrated so remote participants can view, display and control content from their location.

Once an organization determines the key functionalities of the room; they can begin reaching out to audio visual integrators to help select the technology that best fits the room’s requirements. The integrator can then begin designing the collaboration environment that will meet the organization’s collaboration needs.

Learning the Cloud Way – Part II

April 12th, 2013 | Posted by Lisa Avvocato in Cloud Services | Education - (0 Comments)

As cloud services pick up speed in the private sector, questions about security, cost savings, implementation and best-practice models have emerged in concert with its rapid growth and adoption. But are institutions of higher learning following suit? Cambridge, MA-based Forrester Consulting turned their focus on 12 universities in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, India, and New Zealand, surveying CIOs and IT directors for their July 2012 report “Cloud Bursts Into Higher Education.”

They found out how and why these schools are employing the cloud; plus they give some suggestions as to where the partnership between higher education and the cloud is headed.

So, how do schools who adopt the cloud compare with businesses?

A Forrester survey from 2011 asked 920 companies which were the most important factors in choosing to deploy SaaS. The top 4 were:

  1. Improved business agility (72%);
  2. Allows us to focus resources on more important projects (66%):
  3. Speed of implementation and deployment (64%);
  4. Faster delivery of new features and functions from SaaS/as-a-service providers (60%).*

*“Lower overall costs” actually tied for 4th place with 60%

As previously noted, Forrester found that universities were adopting cloud services to boost productivity. Plus, speed, budget and scalability were the top three features universities valued most about the cloud. When it comes to the cloud, universities are aligned very closely with businesses.

Forrester also found that cloud-forward schools have three commonalities. First, a common corporate-to-education talent migration means schools’ CIO or IT directors often have firsthand experience of successful cloud implementation, and are endeavoring to bring knowledge and practices up-to-date at their universities. Second, schools with big technology components—academic programs that need and/or can get the most use out of cloud services, like IT training, animation, and fashion—are the most enthusiastic about adopting cloud technology.

Third, U.S. schools are ahead of the pack, with, Forrester estimates, international universities lagging behind by about 12 months. Forrester cites “lack of knowledge and understanding” as the biggest barriers to cloud adoption, noting the while these universities are turning more to the cloud, they’re doing so much slower and more carefully than their U.S. counterparts.

In the future, expect to see more inter-departmental collaboration between IT and academic departments. Additionally, funding will move from IT to academic departments as those departments take on more IT autonomy, and team up on projects.

New realities are driving more direct control of technology by leaders of non-IT organizations, internal users, and customers—empowered by their own technology use. These changes herald an IT organization in which CIOs build agile and nimble teams that enable empowered employees and customers to be successful directly using technology for education.” – Head of Information Technology at a New Zealand University

Related Articles:
Learning the Cloud Way – Part I

Come See Video Conferencing Hit Legal Age

April 1st, 2013 | Posted by Lisa Avvocato in IVCi | Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

The ABA TECHSHOW is taking place April 4-6, 2013 in the Windy City (Chicago, IL). Visit us at booth #614!

IVCi is partnering with Blue Jeans Network to showcase how video collaboration solutions can help law firms meet today’s legal challenges, such as geographically dispersed clients and timely access to subject matter experts, while helping minimize expenses.

In a previous article, we discussed how firms can use video to build client relationships, as well as, manage their ever growing case load by keeping in touch with traveling clients effortlessly through video enabled smartphones or tablets. Additionally, firms can use video conferencing to depose remote witnesses or interview difficult to reach subject matter experts without the time and cost associated with business travel.

Firms can also use video conferencing solutions to attract and retain top associates. Partners can interview potential candidates remotely so that only the most qualified candidates are brought in for further discussion. Plus, law firms can help differentiate themselves by utilizing the latest technology and making the firm more attractive to new recruits.

Additionally, partners and associates can attend meetings with remote offices and confer on any range of topics that would typically be discussed in a face-to-face environment.  Plus, attorneys can attend classes and seminars over video as part of distance learning courses to satisfy CLE requirements. This frees up valuable time and resources by avoiding travel to various firm or seminar locations.

Stop by our booth at ABA TECHSHOW for a demonstration and learn how video collaboration solutions can help your firm. Click here for registration information.

Additional Resources:
Video Conferencing Hits Legal Age

The NASA Distance Learning Experience

March 14th, 2013 | Posted by Lisa Avvocato in Education | Video Conferencing - (0 Comments)

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit in on a NASA Digital Learning Network program with a fourth grade class that ironically was located about fifteen minutes away from me.  Scott Anderson, a DLN Coordinator at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, taught a module about Toys in Space. The program focuses on forces and motion and consists of an investigation of what toys will work in a microgravity environment (such as space).

Did you know that a boomerang actually works in space? It’s because the looping path a boomerang follows is actually the result of the uneven forces exerted by the air they travel through and not the influence of gravity.

For each segment, a short video of an astronaut using a toy, such as a jump rope, is shown to the class. After the video, the instructor gave a brief explanation as to why the toy did or did not work in space. In the jump rope’s case it is because of the law of motion; an object in motion will stay in motion until something (usually gravity) causes it to stop.

The instructor then poses the question to the class, what could be done to modify the toy to perform better in space? After a flurry of raised hands, the teacher selects a few students to answer the question. My favorite answer for the jump rope was magnet boots. When you jump up the magnets pull you back down similar to gravity (smart fourth grader!).

After the lesson is completed, the students have the opportunity to ask questions about the lesson or NASA programs.  For example, what animal has gone into space the most? The answer is the squirrel monkey although France did send a cat into space one time.

Overall, the program was extremely interesting and the kids were well behaved and actively engaged.  I learned a lot of interesting tidbits so I imagine the children learned a lot from the class as well.  It’s great to take a break from typical lessons and learning channels (or work day) and learn something new!

Watch the below video for a sample of one of NASA’s DLN programs where they connect Mission Control with students in Georgia.