Tag: telemedicine video conferencing equipment

HealthPartners Chooses VSee For Telehealth Partner: A Case Study

healthpartners telemedicine cart

If you’re looking for ways to connect providers and staff at a distance, check out this case study on one of  our telehealth projects for HealthPartners.

It showcases a scalable telemedicine solution we designed for Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. The solution allows Regions to share their top-notch specialist resources with a neighboring hospital that lacks these resources – in particular, Regions is able to provide on-call neurologists for stroke and other cases. 

VSee was among four video telemedicine platforms evaluated for the project. Ultimately Regions chose VSee over three other large, well-known competitors. VSee’s telehealth expertise and its simple, yet full-featured solution made it the “superior” choice for the project.

Some VSee solution highlights include:

  1. Simple one-click sharing with live annotation so that attending and consulting physicians can review CT scans together in real time
  2. The ability to quickly design and implement a customized interface that integrated into its current workflow
  3. Custom interface is designed to scale triage & specialty consults to other departments such as burn, trauma, etc. 
  4. The ability for consulting physicians to answer a call from their mobile devices
  5. The ability to remotely control pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras so distant physicians can examine patients from afar.
  6.  Cost savings!

Read the full case study to learn more.

Do-It-Yourself Telemedicine Solution for an Ebola Isolation Unit

CDC Ebola unit suit

Being on the front lines of Ebola containment is a frightening job. Protective measures include setting up check-in stations outside of the hospital, wearing heavy duty face shields and decontamination suits, duct-taping layers of gloves to sleeves, and using telemedicine technology. In fact, Nebraska Medical in the lonely Midwest has taken Ebola treatment and prevention to a new level with its use of HD video telemedicine and hands free medical technology. Using technology like digital stethoscopes, X-rays with wireless transfer, and real-time video allows it to keep Ebola treatment safe yet personal. It has successfully saved all two of its Ebola patients and has made Nebraska Medical a CDC model of care for fighting Ebola. It was also recently awarded a 10M telehealth grant by CMS.

VSee Lets You Do Telemedicine On the Cheap

However, you don’t need a 10M telehealth grant to set up a telemedicine isolation unit like Nebraska Medical – which uses Vidyo, a very expensive and complex system.  VSee simple, secure telehealth lets you set up interactive HD video telemedicine for your isolation unit in just about 2 hours. Unlike Vidyo and similar systems. VSee’s peer-to-peer platform does not require any complicated server setup or maintenance. Furthermore, VSee’s simple design allows you to easily integrate telemedicine devices without any additional equipment or complicated configurations. VSee even allows you to send up to 4 device images simultaneously so you can see both the patient’s face and the device images without toggling or doing special video mixing.

To start using telemedicine in your isolation unit, all you need is a few pieces of easily obtainable equipment:

Setting Up Ebola Telemedicine in Less Than 3 Hours

To set up your system, download VSee to your computers. For the isolation unit PC, configure VSee to auto answer mode: Go to the VSee address book, click Settings–>Preferences–>Automatically accept calls. VSee allows you to add only selected VSee accounts to auto accept calls to ensure security.

VSee auto call accept

To set up your PTZ HD camera: Go to the VSee address book, click Settings–>Audio and Camera Setup. Select your PTZ camera from the camera pull down menu.

VSee Camera Setup

And if you’re not ready to “do-it-yourself”, VSee offers a pre-configured isolation unit to get you started.  Please contact sales@vsee.com and join Dr. Gavin MacGregor-Skinner and other VSee users in fighting Ebola with telemedicine today.

 photo courtesy: CDC Global via Flickr

Mobile Health Clinic Brings Care to John Steinbeck’s Agricultural Workers

mobile_clinic

The WorkWell Medical Group has turned a used bus into a new mobile health clinic so they can take their urgent care services on the road. The urgent care center is based in the Salinas California immortalized by John Steinbeck in his novels and is located in a still a largely agricultural area.  The urgent care center serves several large agriculture processors, as well as schools, federal and county agencies, and retailers.  Building the mobile clinic is the brainchild of Dr. Vikram Mittal and his wife Dr. Sheilaja Mittal who have wanted to make it possible to make their services more easily available to agricultural workers and vulnerable members of their community.

The mobile clinic, which features VSee video telemedicine, is designed to be able to perform the same level of medicine as their regular office clinic. The July 3, 2013 publication of The Californian notes:

It is equipped with a heart monitor, lung evaluation equipment, two exam rooms and the ability to suture cuts in the field.

It also has a state of the art telemedicine system that can transmit patient data to doctors at the South Main clinic in real time so they can listen to heart beats and see pupils remotely.

You can read the full artilce here: Mobile Clinic – The Californian

A Review of Telemedicine Video Conferencing Solutions at ATA 2014

VSee ATA 2014Thanks to everyone who came out to see VSee telemedicine video conferencing solutions at this year’s ATA 2014 expo.  We had a great exhibition with an overwhelming show of interest in our eVisit products for online video doctor visits.  Our only disappointment was that our favorite video conferencing competitor, Vidyo (which also provides great quality video), decided to change booths at the last minute from their original booth space #2414 right next to ours to #3413 way out yonder on the ATA show floor wilderness.  We were looking forward to our usual friendly rivalry at this year’s ATA exhibition, but I guess they were feeling shy – oh well, maybe next year 🙂

Polycom, Cisco, LifeSize, Vidyo vs. VSee

Other than Vidyo, the usual suspects were also out on the ATA show floor strutting their stuff — Polycom, Cisco (Tandberg), LifeSize.  Since we get quite a few questions about what makes VSee telemedicine video different from these other guys, I thought it might be a good time to give a bird’s eye view of the differences.

Polycom, Cisco, and LifeSize provide legacy video conferencing systems (a.k.a. traditional video conferencing systems).  This requires purchasing expensive hardware.  It also requires dedicated infrastructure which is complicated to set up and expensive to maintain.  Both of these make expanding telemedicine endpoints pricey and difficult.  The good thing about such systems is because video is running on the system’s dedicated hardware you can expect standardized video and audio quality.

Vidyo is a little different from Polycom, Cisco, and LifeSize in that it’s a software solution, so it’s cheaper because you’re not required to purchase as much fancy hardware equipment.  However, it still requires dedicated infrastructure which translates into expensive servers to maintain and extra servers to purchase when you want to scale up.

For a more detailed discussion of Legacy video conferencing systems check out this discussion with expert Rich Griffin or this post on room-based video conferencing systems.

What Makes VSee Different

VSee video platform is a very different beast from these legacy video conferencing systems.  Like Vidyo, it is a software-based video platform, but that’s where the similarities end.  Unlike Vidyo (and everyone else) VSee uses a peer-to-peer structure which eliminates the need for a dedicated infrastructure.  Instead, of routing video streams through expensive dedicated servers and network, VSee uses a directory server to look up the endpoints which want to talk to each other. Video is then streamed directly from endpoint to endpoint over a regular network, so all you need is a computer with a webcam, mic, and Internet connection running the VSee app.

This and VSee’s low bandwidth consumption makes it very simple for doctors to connect to patients virtually anywhere in the world, especially in remote and rural areas. The downside of this simplicity is less predictability with video and audio quality since you may not know what kind of network or computer endpoint is being used. Also see this more comprehensive list of features that make VSee video chat ideal for telemedicine.

So in a nutshell:

Legacy Pros

  • standardized video and audio quality
  • compatible with other legacy video conferencing systems

Legacy Cons

  • expensive hardware to purchase and maintain
  • complex infrastructure to set up
  • expensive and complicated to scale up

VSee Pros

  • extremely simple to deploy and scale (since no infrastructure to set up)
  • low bandwidth allows connection to rural and network-challenged areas
  • less expensive than traditional video conferencing systems

VSee Cons

  • video and audio quality dependent on network and user device
  • not compatible with legacy video conferencing endpoints

If you have other questions, feel free to let us know!

Doctors on Demand – Telehealth Services to Video Call Your Doctor Now

doctor on demand Times magazine

excerpted from Time magazine

Online virtual doctor visits are a growing breed of telehealth services beginning to dot the healthcare landscape.  Companies such as MDLIVEAmerican WellTeleDocGoogle Helpouts, and Doctor on Demand offer virtual care services that are designed to give you immediate access to a doctor so getting medical attention is more convenient and accessible for everybody. This means no more sitting around urgent care waiting rooms full of germs and sick people just to get seen for a minor cold.  It also means you don’t have to take a big chunk of time out of work or haul a sick child down to an office to see a doctor.  Instead, you can get on your laptop or mobile device and easily have a doctor see you virtually from the comfort of your home or office.  Depending on your needs, there are a range of telehealth and telemedicine options out there these days for online doctor consultations.

More Ways to Get Health Care Online

For a quick diagnoses and prescription for something like a cold or yeast infection, Zipnosis offers 5 minute online doctor diagnoses at $25 per illness.  You can also get fast answers for your health condition using popular smartphone health apps like AskMD and HealthTap which give you free access to instant doctor answers.  Full-fledged live doctor video consultations with primary care physicians, specialists, and therapists are also now available.  Virtual care platforms that have these services include MDLIVE ($45/consultation for doctor or therapist), American Well ($49/consultation), TeleDoc ($38/consultation + $150 annual membership fee), Google Helpouts for Health (price set by individual health providers), and celebrity newcomer, Doctor on Demand ($40/consultation).  You can check out our list of virtual consultation service reviews here.

Dr. Phil Showcases Online Doctor Video Visits

Doctor on Demand Dr. PhilEven TV health personalities like Dr. Phil are getting into the game. Dr. Phil recently featured the Doctor on Demand telehealth app on his own TV show as well as on The Doctors. In addition, he is one of the funders of Doctor On Demand (along with an impressive list of investors including Venrock, Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, and Athena Health CEO Jonathan Bush). He also sits on its advisory board and happens to be the father of one of the co-founders, Jay McGraw.

Doctor on Demand allows you to see a doctor without being a part of a health plan or employer group.  It charges based on time (like lawyers) rather than a per visit fee at a $40 per 15 minutes rate.  It also employs doctors to work scheduled shifts rather than having doctors subscribe to the service to see patients whenever they have down time.  Its pay model allows physicians get to take home $30, while Doctor on Demand gets a $10 cut.  Doctor on Demand consultations are currently available in 31 states, including California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Video Visits With Your Doctor A Growing Frontier

Even without media hype from Dr. Phil, Dr. Stork, and Dr. Oz, virtual doctor visits are a clearly growing healthcare option. Long touted as a solution to healthcare accessibility for patients in underserved and rural areas, telehealth is also seen as a way to help lower healthcare costs and improve effectiveness, cover doctor shortages anticipated with the Affordable Care Act, and to make healthcare more convenient overall.   Furthermore, video doctor visits are also benefiting doctors.  According to a recent study, 80% of doctors are using mobile devices in their day-to-day practice, and MedCity reports that “many are choosing to work remotely and consult with patients on video chat services

Are you ready for video chat visits with a doctor?

More Telemedicine Articles…

Business Insider breezy read – “There’s A New App That Will Let You Have A Real Doctor’s Appointment Using Video Chat On Your Smartphone

Modern Healthcare reports TeleDoc study – “RAND study cites telemedicine benefits: lowers costs, expands access

Fast Company on Google Helpouts, Google’s new marketplace for healthcare experts – “The Doctor, Veterinarian, and Lactation Specialist Will See You Now—On Video Chat”

VSee Joins Dell & Intermountain at HIMSS 2014 Health IT Conference

HIMSS 2014 Health ITVSee will be exhibiting at the HIMSS 2014 Health IT Conference in Orlando, Florida all next week Feb. 23-27 in booth #5077.  You can also find us at HIMSS in the Dell Healthcare booth #5264 Hall C (where there will be daily drawings for a Dell Venue Pro 11 tablet) and the Intermountain Healthcare booth #3903.  With all the exciting changes happening in health care and keynote speakers such as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and CEO of Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, this is one HIMSS conference you won’t want to miss.

Also Wed. morning, Feb. 26, make sure to get a free breakfast and stimulating talk on the future of healthcare, bright and early 7:30 a.m. at the Dell Breakfast panel discussion.  VSee CEO Milton Chen will be a guest speaker at the Dell Breakfast discussion “Beyond BYOx – The Internet of Things in Healthcare” located in Suite 340C on the 3rd floor of the Convention Center.  More details on this brochure of Dell Presentations at HIMSS.

VSee Team in Iraq – Telesurgery Teaching at the Azadi Hospital (Days 3-5)

Our remaining days in Duhok (Dohuk) Iraqi Kurdistan were spent mostly at the Azadi Teaching Hospital where we did telesurgery trainings all day until the hospital closed each day.

telesurgery mastoidectomy

setting up VSee telesurgery for a mastoidectomy.

It turns out that the Azadi Hospital is the only public hospital in Duhok.  What’s amazing is that all the services are provided free for all patients, including the Syrian refugees from the Domiz Syrian refugee camp we visited on our second day in Iraq. Anyone can get complex medical procedures, surgeries, and imaging services such as ultrasound, CT, etc. fairly quickly and all for free!  It This local news article on Iraqi health care notes that Kurdistan health care has improved drastically in the past 15 years and that it is looking to become the health care hub in Iraq.

Perhaps its because of this that Azadi is only open from 8 a.m. to  2 p.m. each day.  The other reason is to allow local doctors time to attend to their own private practices and clinics (which they all have) in the afternoon and evenings.  In fact, the surgical team also worked with various private clinics where they would operate late into the evening each night, even though they were performing teaching surgeries nonstop at the Azadi hospital all day – mastoidectomies, nasal fungal infection, abdominal bypass surgery, abdominal hernia, laparoscopic surgery…

Teaching with VSee Telesurgery

laparoscopic telesurgery

VSee makes it simple to do telesurgery for teaching purposes. A simple attachment to the laparoscope or microscope allows VSee to stream whatever the surgeon is seeing via his scope to the local VSee video on a regular laptop computer.  In-room observers can then see what’s happening on the laptop screen while remote mentors or students can see it on VSee video chat for teaching and guiding purposes. The photos above and below show the telesurgery setup for a laparoscopic surgery for abdominal hernia repair.

laparoscopic surgery on VSee

In past visits, when the surgeon was teaching during an operation (such as in the mastoidectomy pictured below), the operating surgeon would simply have to move out of the way and let each observing surgeon take a peek through the microscope before moving on with the surgery.  This time, they could use VSee to stream the images from the microscope directly to a laptop.  This made the teaching process more smooth and efficient.  In fact, one of the surgeons, Dr. Marc Dean, a top Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) specialist was able to complete 9 teaching surgeries in just one morning using VSee to stream the surgery over video 🙂

telesurgery training with VSeeCheck out the size of that microscope!

VSee Surgery in a Box – Mobile Surgery Station

mobile surgery clinic

Another super cool way we were able to make use of VSee was to set up a mobile surgery clinic for a biopsy one day when all the operating rooms were in use.  Instead of using the bulky hospital microscope (previously pictured), Dr. Dean was able to do the biopsy in a space-limited recovery room with the patient sitting in a chair, using a portable microscopic camera.  Since the microscopic camera did not have an eyepiece, VSee video was used to display the image to a laptop. This is an exciting example of how VSee’s simple telemedicine set up can be used in creative and space-efficient ways to do surgery just about anywhere.

An Unforgettable Experience With World Class Surgeons

Erbil, Kurdistan capital

Erbil, beautiful capital of Iraqi Kurdistan

Getting to be a part of this dedicated, top-tier surgical group has been a privilege and awesome experience for the VSee team. Our group of American surgeons, lead by Dr. Gazi Zibari, have been coming to Azadi hospital for over 11 years.  Each year they make about 3 trips to the hospital and other private clinics to perform challenging surgical operations as well as to train the local surgeons.  The group includes some of the best surgeons in the world, including Dr. Frederick J. Stucker, who is considered the top ENT specialist.  Dr. Stucker has operated on 4 U.S. Presidents, has performed over 9000 nose surgeries, and approximately 30,000 surgeries in total. (The ENT surgeon with the next highest record has only performed 4500 nose surgeries.) Dr. Zibari, besides spearheading these thrice-a-year visits to Iraqi Kurdistan, is also a  Board Member and past president of the American College of Surgeons (Louisiana chapter) as well as a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

American Kurdish Medical Group, VSeeOne final group pic with the American Kurdish Medical Group at the Erbil International Airport before returning to California, back row from left to right:  Milton Chen, Dr. Gazi B. Zibari and his niece, Dr. Frederick J. Stucker, Dr. John Thomas, Dr. Marc Dean; front row, left to right: Becky Wai, Julie Daugherty, Dr. Gazi’s cousin, Brian Spearman

Special thanks to our collaborating sponsors Operation Hope (OH), World Surgical Foundation (WSF), American Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association (AHPBA), The American Kurdish Medical Group (AKMG), Otorhinologic Research Institute (ORI), the Prime Minister of Iraq and Director of General Health for supporting this medical outreach trip to bring telemedicine and tele-education technologies to the developing world.

Iraq Kurdistan prime minister

VSee Telemedicine Exhibits At Special Ops Medical Conference

special ops medicine and first aid

Join VSee at this year’s at the Special Operations Medical Association (SOMA) Conference 2013, December 14-17 at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida, where attendees can refresh medical skills and learn about the latest techniques and technology for emergency and trauma situations – check out some of the key speakers here.

VSee will be exhibiting in booth T1 (third booth to the left just as you enter the exhibitor hall), where it will be showcasing its telemedicine field kit and extreme telemedicine capabilities.

VSee Telemedicine requires less than half than bandwidth of Skype, Vidyo, and OpenTok, and is field-hardened for the most limited networks.  VSee is FDA-registered and HIPAA-compliant.  VSee communications are secured via end-to-end 256-bit AES FIPS 140-2 compliant encryption.

VSee is a winner of the American Telemedicine Association’s People’s Choice Award and was recently deployed for Shell Nigeria on two offshore drilling platforms as well as local hospitals.  VSee has also been used in numerous disaster relief efforts where the network is extremely poor and infrastructure may be non-existent.

Again, please stop by booth T1 and learn more about VSee Telemedicine and how it supports virtual doctor visits from anywhere!  Compare VSee with other video conferencing options here.  See you at SOMA 2013!

About SOMA

The Special Operations Medical Association (SOMA) is a community of military medics, civilian tactical emergency medical personnel, paramedics, doctors, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, tactical medicine and public health experts.

They annually hold the SOMA symposium at the Tampa Convention Center.  The symposium allows military and civilian medical personnel to exchange the newest science, technology, and skills of unconventional medicine which increases survivability against the odds. It also conducts education and training for continued medical education units.

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Finding the SBR Health and VSee Link

SBR Health video solutions

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

Thanks!

Milton, CEO

VSee Telemedicine Plays Key Role in Global Humanitarian Relief

“I feel like Thomas Edison…we don’t know how something works, but we know 200 ways not to do something, and so far, VSee has proven to be the best tool on the field.” – Randy Roberson, Disaster Relief Specialist


(Video link:  VSee in Action- HELP Telemedicine in Haiti)

Fifteen years ago, a chance meeting with a 40-year veteran of the humanitarian relief field and a life-changing visit to Calcutta lead Randy Roberson to make a quantum leap from broadcasting to disaster recovery logistics.  Since then Roberson has been literally dropped into numerous disaster situations around the world — India, Haiti, Afghanistan, Japan…as well as within the U.S.  His experiences have led him to the develop a robust set of technological tools that help emergency response workers effectively provide aid amidst the chaos and destruction of a disaster.  As he puts it bluntly, “the disaster technology was developed because I got tired of seeing people die on the field.”

Continue Reading…

Oklahoma Doctor Gets Busted for Using Skype for Telemedicine

skype illegal

Guest post: Mike Stinebiser, medical technology sales and business development at AirInSpace.

Just as the September 23 enforcement deadline of the new HIPAA rules arrives, The Oklahoman reports a case of a doctor who did not take heed of state health regulations for practicing telemedicine.  Dr. Thomas Trow is being disciplined for prescribing powerful meds to mental health patients over Skype video chat without ever having seen them in person.  With few exceptions, most state health laws require an initial in-person visit to establish a patient-physician relationship before before a doctor can treat a patient over video conference.  This includes prescribing drugs, rendering diagnoses, and performing other medical services during a virtual visit.  In addition, medical board documents also show that Skype video chat, which Dr. Trow was using, is not an approved telemedicine communication system.

Skype for Telehealth – Is it that bad?

Since the announcement of the new HIPAA rules early in February , the debate about the appropriateness and security of using consumer video chat systems such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime for telehealth has been raging in the health community.  While Skype is simple and popular, it’s lack of privacy features for the medical work flow is a concern to many telehealth practitioners.

Recently, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the enforcement agency for the HIPAA omnibus, emphasized that a company that transfers health data such that it is either unencrypted or accessible to the company (even temporarily) is liable under HIPAA as a Business Associate.  However, this doesn’t mean Skype is a legally acceptable telehealth tool.  Telehealth practitioners still need to beware of state legislation regulating the use of video chat systems — especially since state rules are often more stringent federal regulations and take precedence over looser federal laws, as Dr. Trow found out the hard way.

In any case, with new HIPAA rules going into effect now, make sure you have a HIPAA-compliant practice, including your video conference system.  You can check out some Skype alternatives for telemedicine or check out these simple tips on meeting HIPAA compliance.

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