In particular we discuss visual communications as a key enabler for telemedicine solutions, as after all they are all about accessibility. For this, visual communication is a great fit – it allows health organizations – hospitals, healthcare providers, experts and specialists – to supply their service to everyone, even remote patients, in a reasonable and economical manner.
For telemedicine Quality of Experience (QoE) is key. To create an effective doctor-patient scenario from a far the remote party needs to receive a clear, high definition representation of the scenario in hand. Same goes for a doctor-doctor scenarios, or any other case where physical boundaries are bridged via visual communications technology.
The ability to see the patient, as well as any instrumentation used or documents presented, without any perceived delay or network artifacts, is crucial for such a solution to be effective and trust-worthy. The same is true, of course, for the patient side, where seeing the doctor’s face is essential to build trust and confidence in cases of remote healthcare.
The importance of high definition video is clear. As details are extremely important, you have to transmit the finest quality to the other side, or the outcome of the medical procedure will be in risk. Any delay or artifact associated with the video can also jeopardize the process, and therefore must be avoided at all cost. Last but not least, you need to perfectly sync the video with the various instrumentations, to allowing the parties to collaborate and communicate with video in the background.
While QoE is traditionally associated with high cost, high end systems and costly leased lines, today’s technology allow healthcare providers to setup video infrastructures for telemedicine applications with fraction of the cost of dedicated telemedicine “rooms”, utilizing desktop and laptop computers as well as mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablets, and using the Internet as connection.
While this reduces cost and increases availability, it makes the challenge of maintaining high quality regardless of the network more significant. It also puts emphasis on the technical details of the solution: these devices must support high definition video, with a high frame rate and low delay. Fortunately, optimized video communication clients can already provide this for mobile computers and consumer devices.
With the growing popularity of desktop and mobile video calling, telemedicine is expected to become more popular and much more available, reaching anyone and everyone. This will definitely provide patients with a better quality of experience with regard to the medical treatments they are enjoying and are entitled to.