A recent article in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery reports that the use of telerehabilitation for patients with spinal cord injuries resulted in a group of patients that reported higher satisfaction with their care. Most spinal cord injury patients must be in special units in hospital for long periods of time, which can lead to isolation from family and friends.
After release, they must spend a great deal of time in rehabilitation. The report showed that using video conferencing technology allowed patients to conduct rehabilitation from home and is emerging as a viable way to improve quality of care after a patient is discharged. In addition to higher satisfaction, patients at the three sites involved in the telerehabilitation study showed no difference in the types or number of complications or hospital readmissions from patients in traditional rehabilitation.
Video conferencing has proven highly effective in other telerehabilitation applications as well as teletherapy, telemental health and even clinical applications. For example, the treatment of stroke patients via video is fast emerging as standard practice across the industry. For stroke victims, time is critical — especially for those who qualify for treatment with the clot-busting drug known as tPA, which must be administered within 3 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Unfortunately, in the United States, the availability of critical care neurologists falls well below the need of hospitals. That’s where video conferencing technology comes in: Specialists on Call (SOC), founded in 2005, has a core team of experienced neurologists — all of them former or current University neurologists — that can treat patients in any of the hospitals using its service, regardless of location.
By utilizing video conferencing, SOC neurologists can be at a patient’s bedside within 15 minutes and can begin administering treatment. Without video, the hospital has to call a physician to come in, which may not happen in time, and that’s if they even have a local specialist taking emergency calls.
Video conferencing is becoming more and more important as a way to maximize and more broadly distribute medical care. It saves money, it’s green and it improves the quality of life for patients.
Unified communications (UC) – in a nutshell, the ability for all types of communications devices to communicate seamlessly – is what the business world is working toward. The end result of reduced communication time to report on issues and receive decisions toward them is where businesses see the most benefit.
But, many businesses aren’t convinced that UC will be effective, according to a Forrester Research study. And, they want a triple-digit ROI if they implement UC. That’s a tall order when you are talking about integrating communications services, such as instant messaging, presence information, IP telephony and video conferencing with non real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax).
To get the right kind of return from UC, there are a few things that you must include when creating an easy-to-implement and effective framework. Going in, an agency should set the benchmark for success. Focusing on the communications needs of the agency and setting the correct expectation for what benefit will be derived from a potential UC solution is the first step.
Also, user training is critical not only for successful implementation, but also for widespread adoption of any UC solution. Investing in something that staff doesn’t know how to use is a sure way to kill any solution. A way to increase that success rate is to focus on reusing the skill set and software toolset that your employees are already familiar with. For example, you can use Outlook or Lotus Notes to schedule video resources, or Microsoft Office Communicator client to join a video conference to increase that success rate.
Technology interoperability issues that may present themselves can be mitigated by focusing on a standards based architecture and gateways for maximum interoperability. And, sizing the bandwidth of your communications needs upfront will ensure that you don’t oversubscribe your network. Lastly, building redundancy should help mitigate some of an organizations network challenges.
Setting a framework for your solution is the first step in getting to the vision of UC. Only with a solid foundation will an agency have a chance to realize the productivity return that can come from a solid UC solution.
Is your agency looking at UC? What steps are you taking to get there?
Video conferencing is now affordable and effective for SMBs
According to a recent article in AsiaOne small companies worldwide are transforming themselves into global players by effectively using information technology to, among other things, manage costs. One example discussed is the use of video conferencing to replace travel.
In fact, travel replacement is often cited as the greatest benefit of video conferencing for SMBs who need to get the most productivity out of their often limited staff and time. The New England Credit Union uses video conferencing to reduce travel and increase communication among 150 employees at multiple branches. “It’s 3 days by car, 3 hours by plane, and 3 seconds on video,” said one executive.
Swanke Hayden Connell Architects, a firm with a staff of 350, cut costs and increased productivity with team video conferencing. “Video conferencing means we can truly work across boundaries to collaborate on projects. It’s a huge boon for productivity and I wish we’d done it sooner,” said David Hughes, CEO, Swanke Hayden Connell Architects.
Learn more about the benefits of video conferencing for SMBs.
The TANDBERG Public Sector team has been at the 22nd Annual Air Force Information Technology Conference (AFITC) this week in Montgomery, AL, where the focus has been “The warfighter’s edge in battle.”
The consistent theme we’ve heard at the conference and show is that interoperability and speed of communication are two of the largest determining factors in whether a warfighter wins or loses.
TANDBERG products are built with interoperability in mind, and speed of communication is one of the reasons why our products are in high demand in many government agencies and organizations…certainly the US military.
Needless to say, we were pleased when Lt. Gen. William T. Lord, Chief of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer (SAF/XC) announced that TANDBERG will be the first Air Force vendor to go through the new agency-wide reciprocity initiative. This initiative provides a systematic process for ensuring timely reciprocity of a DoD IS/IT from one of the Services, COCOMS or DoD agencies to another. This speeds up approval times, which can take 12 to 18 months, and allows, for example, the Army to adopt technologies that have received approval from the Air Force and vice versa.
This initiative will save time and money, and get resources to the warfighter much faster. We are happy to be the first case study for this initiative, and excited that our solutions will be empowering and protecting the best armed forces in the world. Just goes to show that a standards-based solution can transcend any communication barrier.
Access to the Internet at high speeds – for telecommuting, accessing data or using video conferencing technology – is something that most of us take for granted, but millions of Americans still don’t have.
According to a study conducted by Communications Workers of America (CWA), the United States still lags far behind other countries in terms of broadband speeds. Their Speed Matters study shows that speeds in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are faster (as high as 9.9 megabits per second [mgps] in Delaware), but speeds in the South and in rural areas were markedly slower (as low as 2.6 mgps in Ohio).
The Obama Administration is working to address that disparity, which leaves Americans in unserved and underserved communities at a distinct disadvantage. The first step is the $7.2 billion offered by the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), along with the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) efforts to expand broadband access across the United States through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and Broadband Initiatives Program. They hope the efforts will increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure, and provide long-term economic benefits.
Another important step will be the National Broadband Plan, which is being created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It is set to be unveiled in February, and the FCC is looking for input from Americans now. They want to hear how we define broadband and what we expect to see in a plan. They have already asked for comment from Americans and will be holding an open meeting this week to ask for more input.
This is the time for all of us who use and appreciate high broadband speeds to take the time to share our ideas of how to bridge the digital divide in America. What services and access do you have in your personal and professional life that others could benefit from? How fast is fast enough when it comes to broadband access speeds?