In a merger of telehealth, mobile and cloud, Massachusetts-based swyMe is offering video conferencing in ambulances. The basic system includes three cameras in the vehicle: a standard “fish eye” 360º camera mounted high on the ambulance wall; a webcam attached to a touch screen monitor; and a handheld HDTV 720p IP camera.
The combination of the three affords a remote physician a view of the overall situation in the ambulance, the ability to communicate face-to-face with attending EMS workers and capability to zero in to close-up views of the patient. The system is HIPAA compliant and uses AES256 security.
swyMe COO Jeff Urdan explained that the system provides high quality video using public Internet with low bandwidth mobile, about 384 kbs for a quality video signal. It can accommodate multiple carriers. The software comes standard with a handheld examination camera, otoscope and stethoscope, but can include any USB or Bluetooth medical diagnostic device including ultrasound or EKG. The system is interactive.
Among the benefits of their system is the obvious fact that many emergency patients may be in locations that require long rides to hospitals and may need doctor’s care immediately. Urdan points out that EMS workers are regulated and have limited authority to treat. This also enables additional levels of care in the ambulance with a doctor in contact. It also does lead to additional stocking of supplies in the ambulance and added training. Of course, a doctor could be in telephone contact with an ambulance during its journey, however, the video adds greatly to the physician’s ability to diagnose and treat the patient.
The system was released in early May. Urdan states that the first client is conducting a technical evaluation until August. The test is not using an actual ambulance in the field. It is done with a suitcase with the system parts.
swyMe has partnered with Michigan-based MaxLife to produce the system. swyMe’s expertise is in software for video and communications. They sought out a supplier of video surveillance cameras for this app, which brought them to MaxLife , a Verizon M2M partner.
Pricing is $25,000 to outfit an ambulance, including software and Verizon service for the first two years. Then annual renewals for software and Verizon are $3,000/year after that. swyMe is a Delaware C Corp, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of VeaMea BV, (Netherlands-based). HitCast (Italy-based) has an ownership stake in VeaMea BV. The company deals primarily with healthcare clients, but also offers video and related solutions to financial services companies.
VeaMea and HitCast have extensive, software-centric solutions for unified conferencing, via the internet TCP/IP protocols and a wide range of standards: H.323, SIP, LAPD, as examples. This provides a magic sauce for swyMe to implement across a host of existing legacy systems. These solutions also are remote video signal processing oriented and specifically adapted for 3G/4G UMTS systems, thereby providing an unusual level of quality transmission. The collaboration brought by this joint venture is directed toward mobile telemedicine applications. One other interesting aspect of VeaMea’s products is the integration of a “cloud Console” for client administration of the service.
swyMe is apparently going to be the branding trademark of VeaMea in the US. The Ambulance product offering is apparently only the beginning of a broader marketing front in video conferencing via the mobile cloud.
There are about 15,000 ambulance companies in the U.S., with approximately 50,000 vehicles. The company is also looking to the European market for expansion.
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