Just for the record, while SBR Health (secure video-based solutions for the creation of virtual healthcare delivery networks) did come out of VSee (secure video conference + screen share for telehealth), they are two separate companies without any business ties. I get asked about the relationship between SBR Health and VSee all the time – so I wanted to write this blog to clarify – because there is a small story behind it
SBR Health and VSee – What’s the Link?
When VSee was started, telemedicine and telehealth weren’t anywhere on our horizon. We were purely focused on building a video collaboration tool that would provide an awesome user experience. However, as the VSee product matured, we started seeing numerous medical and healthcare-related sales leads, so I asked Chris Herot, our then Chief Product Officer, to focus on VSee healthcare customers.
Chris, as you may know, is now the CEO of SBR Health. When I first met Chris, he had just ended his previous venture, Convoq (a WebEx alternative platform for web conferencing) and had written an insightful article on his experience. I was a struggling first time entrepreneur, so I took the initiative to reach out to him and ended up hiring him for VSee. It’s a decision I will never regret – Chris is one of the smartest and most talented people I know, and I learned a lot from him about running a startup, for which I’m extremely grateful.
But getting back to how SBR Health was born – we were getting so many healthcare-related leads that the SBR Health idea was formed to allow VSee to have a better product-market fit for these leads. The initial idea was to help hospitals manage their video calls more effectively. For example, if Stanford Hospital required a Spanish translator, the system would route the VSee video call to a translator matching the requirement. Unfortunately, at that time, VSee didn’t have the engineering resources to serve SBR Health and its general medical requirements, so today SBR Health and VSee are two separate entities, each on its own business trajectory.
Differences Between SBR Health and VSee Telehealth
So how does SBR Health differ from the VSee telemedicine / telehealth eVisit offering? SBR Health aims to simplify the work flow of major hospitals – specifically – through skill-based video call routing, as described in the Stanford Hospital medical interpreter example. These skills were later expanded beyond just languages and interpretation services. Other companies that aim to optimize complex medical work flows include a booming Eceptionist, which is doing quite well. It offers a platform that “supports scheduling, telemedicine, e-referral and triage management, wait list and wait time management, case management, care pathways, protocols and reporting” for hospitals and healthcare facilities.
VSee telemedicine eVisit takes a holistic approach to providing our telehealth platform as a service. We have developed the entire stack from low level video and medical device sharing to calendaring, virtual waiting room, doctor dashboard, etc. to HIPAA-compliant data hosting. By developing the entire software stack and modules – VSee is able to customize design and provide a simpler virtual visit experience for both patients and doctors.
You can learn more about VSee telemedicine eVisit at
One of the most common questions we get asked is “What’s the difference between VSee and Skype video chat?” Let me assure you that there is a difference, especially if you’re wanting to do telemedicine. Even if you aren’t, VSee’s group video conference beats Skype’s video performance by a mile, especially when you need to cross continents — plus it’s free. While I’ll do my best to give you a fair overview of VSee and Skype, the best thing to do is just to give VSee a try. As I mentioned before, group video calling is always free and if you want to try out our fast screen sharing features, VSee Pro is free for 30-days. So here are some of the main differences between VSee and Skype:
#1 Network Friendly and Low Bandwidth Video Chat
- VSee uses less than 50% of the bandwidth of Skype at the same video quality.
- VSee network-sensing technology will back off when it senses network congestion, which is ideal for wireless networks like 3G, satellite, or congested intranets.
In 2009 and 2010 the United Nation’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) needed to stream high quality live video link to Darfurian refugee camps in Chad for Angelina Jolie and Hillary Clinton. Initially the UNHCR wanted to use Skype but found that the video quality was too grainy and poor due to the bandwidth limitations at the camp. They ended up using VSee because when using that same weak network, VSee was able to deliver clear, high quality video to the refugee camps, which made the event special. For your everyday video calls, this means VSee will not freeze and stutter on you nearly as much as Skype video chat.
#2 Rich Collaboration
- one-click application sharing with annotation
- drag and drop file transfer
- multi-camera support and remote PTZ camera control
Skype’s sharing capabilities are fairly limited and not that easy to use. For example, when I share my desktop, the remote person cannot see me. This makes it hard to build trust in situations where face is critical, such as for sales and getting to know new coworkers I may never meet in person. It also doesn’t let you annotate on a shared screen, making collaboration inconvenient. For telemedicine, Skype doesn’t let you simply plug in and stream an extra camera or medical device so the doctor can see you and the medical device image at the same time.
With VSee all parties can see each other for the duration of the call. VSee is the only video chat that allows you to send up to 4 video streams simultaneously from a single device. VSee design is all about simplicity and minimizing clicks. That means when you call someone, all you get is his or her face without being surrounded by menus, buttons, or frames. You can choose exactly what window you want to share or unshare with one simple click – no need for pop-up menus or directories.
#3 Privacy, Security, and API
- VSee uses 256 bit FIPS 140-2 AES for all traffic
- VSee provides a simple, rich API that supports secure medical workflows
While Skype does provide encryption, it uses its own proprietary method which means that no one knows if they keep the decryption keys (although the Edward Snowden divulgences confirm that it’s more than likely that Skype does.) Indeed, Skype itself acknowledges “spying” on customers–that is, when you agree to use Skype products, you are allowing Skype to collect information about you, your account, and even your communications. Moreover, Skype is also often attacked through its various vulnerabilities. Here is a PC World article about Skype security for doing business.
VSee is designed to be secure from the start. It uses open industry standard, FIPS 140-2 compliant 256-bit AES encryption on all control and media traffic. Everything is always encrypted. VSee uses RSA public/private key to exchange the AES session key such that the VSee servers do not have access to the AES session key. This means only the people in your conversation can decrypt data passed through VSee. Moreover, VSee API and eVisit platform allows for easy integration into a health portal or the creation of a secure web-based telehealth portal including support for virtual waiting room, doctor dashboard, etc.
I hope you find this VSee vs. Skype comparison useful. As I mentioned right at the beginning, the best thing to do is to sign up for VSee and give it a try yourself! You can also learn more about VSee telemedicine here or check out this third-party comparison of VSee vs. Skype for HIPAA-compliant telehealth.
photo courtesy: Claudio Gennari …”Cogli l’attimo ferma il tempo”‘s
Guest Post - Anthony Watkins is Founder, Chairman and CEO of The Toney Watkins Company, a hospitality and entertainment company, currently developing international theme park resorts.
In early September of 1966, I sat with my brothers in front of our family’s television set watching this new show that was premiering on NBC called “Star Trek”. I was immediately hooked.
More than anything, I was caught up in the technology of this new show – particularly, the Starship Enterprises’ two way video conference system. There stood Captain Pike (and later Captain Kirk) using this incredible wonder to communicate across space with Starfleet and other entities. From that point forward, I often dreamt about, searched for, and even at one point contemplated how could I create such a Star Trek video conferencing system. It’s now 2013, and I can truly say that I have finally found the “holy grail” of all video conferencing technologies.
Trapped by Skype and Other Inferior Video Conferencing Products?
For the past few years, like many businesses, our company has been using Skype Premium Services (Skype Group Video Calling, Skype Out, Skype Credits, etc.) simply because we didn’t have any better cost-effective choices. We had tried a number other Skype alternatives such as ooVoo, Tokbox, etc—with none of them giving us what we needed.
In fact, I cannot count how many times we’ve had the video in the call freeze or dissipate, the audio fade out and never come back, or the call to simply drop all together. We, for one, got tired of paying for these services while constantly having to tell whoever was on the other end to “Turn off your video to save bandwidth” only to have the audio portion of the call to sound like Alexander Graham Bell’s earliest attempts at a telephone. However, I’m glad to say that our company has finally been set free from the Skype video conference prison.
VSee – A Message in a Bottle
In early September of this year, I stumbled across an article comparing the various video systems out today and discovered VSee, a video chat tool for telehealth. I was so impressed with the video call quality that we are now 100% users of VSee and, in fact, we have become full-time “VSeevangelist’s.”
In addition to now being able to hold high quality individual and group video calls without worrying about the sound and video constantly breaking up, we have also been using VSee to share files, web links, as well as conduct collaborative discussions and make real time changes to architectural and engineering renderings.
Better Video Conferencing, Better Business
The following represents just a few of the uses by our company since learning of VSee three weeks ago.
- On a recent 2 hour call, we connected our folks in Thailand, Australia and the U.S. with not so much as a hiccup. The video was smooth and clear (in default mode). All of the participants commented on how well the audio sounded. What little degradation there was occurred in the audio stream but it was so minor that it was hardly noticeable. During this particular call we also used the drag and drop exchange of files feature as well as copying and pasting of multiple web links in the Instant Message (IM) window for web sites that we wanted to review or share.
- To coordinate architectural site plan with our Korea office, VSee allowed us to not only review the plan and comment on it in real time, but saved us time from having to email it and wait on comments. The IM feature allowed the participants to clarify questions and comments that they did not want everyone else to see.
- This past weekend, I was able to introduce VSee to one of our Board members who happens to be a retired computer industry executive. Ironically, his name is Veasey and it is actually pronounced “VSee”. We both got a kick out of that. His parting words to me as we ended the video conference was “Thanks for introducing me to this technology.”
- On a call just today, one of our executives in South Africa (on a Mac laptop) could not stop raving about the clarity of the picture and high quality audio. When I told him that VSee also offered the capability to switch to 480p and even 720p, I thought he was going to pass out from the excitement.
- On a personal note, early this year, my youngest daughter had moved into a loft in a city about 5 hours away. I have not had time to visit her yet so I convinced her to install VSee and kick Skype to the curb. She then took me on a tour of her loft by walking around with her laptop. I could not believe the clarity of the picture. This clearly blew anything that a real estate company could do as she was able to provide commentary on all of the nuances of her new digs.
The Toney Watkins Company Future is Bright Thanks to VSee
VSee is clearly major disruptor in the video conferencing space, especially for companies like ours that conduct business on a global scale. Add to that the built in security and potential for future enhancements to the product (hopefully the developers will soon include VoIP telephone), and it is hands down the best video conferencing product available. In fact, I cannot see why anyone in their right mind would not want to have VSee installed on all their computer, phone, tablet, phablet, etc.
Of the 100 invites that I have sent out over the past 3 weeks, 34 have already joined VSee, and to a person, they have each exhibited amazement at how well this product works compared to the competition.
I have also started planning with our architects about how we could deploy VSee in the design of our hotels and hotel rooms, our customer service Kiosks and our 44 passenger motor coaches. For us, the future is now!
All I can say to Dr. Milton Chen and the entire VSee staff is that you have truly developed a world class product. May you “Live long and prosper!”
- VSee vs. GoToMeeting for Creative Engineers
- Connecting Public School Administrators Across St. Martin’s Parish
- VSee vs. Skype: 3 Key Differences
photo credit: Joe Haupty via Flickr
More released documents from Edward Snowden show that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has done the unimaginable - cracked encryption codes that secure most of our data. It’s an impressive feat even for the NSA which was created just for code-breaking and now sets the standard for encryption technology. Encryption is important because it’s the main tool used to ensure the security of your web communications whether its Skype video calls, online banking transactions, or sending electronic health records via health portals.
However, as this NPR piece explains, it isn’t so much that using encryption can’t protect data, rather that the NSA has found ways to get around data encryption. According to a Q&A with Snowden over the web, the NSA’s ability to actually break encrypted data are limited. Instead, the agency typically uses techniques that bypass encryption code-breaking, such as hacking into computer endpoints to gather data either before it has been encrypted or after it has been decrypted. The NSA also works with numerous companies to gather decryption keys or to insert backdoor surveillance technology into applications. Earlier Snowden document news reports identified some of the biggest Internet companies — Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Apple — as all having been part of the NSA PRISM surveillance program, despite their stated privacy policies.
The documents also suggest that the NSA has used its influence to introduce weaknesses into its encryption standards (released in 2006), which are used by software and hardware developers worldwide. These weaknesses can then be used build back doors or to otherwise hack into programs using these standards.
This might be a good time to reconsider your videoconferencing options. Many of our favorite video conferences such as Vidyo, Google Hangouts, BlueJeans, WebEx use a computer architecture that make them a perfect target for NSA wannabes. These systems all send your media streams through a router or middleman server where your data will be decrypted and stored before being delivered to its final endpoint computer. As a sort of central switchboard through which gajillions of users’ videoconferencing sessions must pass, you can see how such servers would make juicy targets. (Btw, VSee never keeps any decryption keys or users’ video conversations on its servers. ) The New York Times explains “How keys are acquired is shrouded in secrecy, but independent cryptographers say many are probably collected by hacking into companies’ computer servers, where they are stored.”
photo credit: bocek.kevin via Flickr