Two days ago, Microsoft announced that “Skype for Business” will roll out in 2015. In addition to having retired Messenger, Skype will be doing the same to Lync, Microsoft Office’s longstanding answer to business videoconferencing and collaboration. However, within the announcement were the following three sentences:
“…we’re adopting the familiar Skype icons for calling, adding video and ending a call. We’ve added the call monitor from Skype, which keeps an active call visible in a small window even when a user moves focus to another application.
“At the same time, Skype for Business keeps and improves on all of the capabilities of Lync, including content sharing and telephony.”
It appears that Lync isn’t being retired so much as being overlaid with Skype’s GUI and being rebranded. I was tempted to argue whether or not this really counted as being “Skype”, but then realized that a large part of what makes Skype Skype actually IS that interface.
Something like this was expected, of course, ever since Microsoft acquired Skype. It’s a smart move: Skype, despite its immense popularity in the private world, was unable to transfer that popularity into the business world due to security concerns and Read more
Congratulations Britain! You’re the best…and the second least expensive.
There was a recent study by the Commonwealth Fund which looked at 11 developed western nations: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.
They were compared on the following criteria: Quality Care (Effective Care, Safe Care, Coordinated Care, and Patient-Centered Care), Access (Cost-related Problem, Timeliness of Care), Efficiency, Equity, and “Healthy Lives” (meaning: infant mortality, mortality from conditions that could have been survived with more effective treatment and life expectancy at age 60). They were also compared by the amount spent on health services per capita.
The US was by far the most expensive, and scored terribly overall (last place).
Memo to BHO/POTUS: Tell OPM to expand SVC.
In a merger of telehealth, mobile and cloud, Massachusetts-based swyMe is pass4sure exams 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 p4soutlet 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.
Mobilecloudera.com is produced by two leading information industry experts, Al Boschulte and Victor Schnee, who have published four studies about the ‘Future of the Mobile Cloud.’
What about the Doctors?
The seeds of this article began when my CEO forwarded a Gartner case study from 2008with the question, “If a hospital could do 345,000 video visits up to 2007, why hasn’t telemedicine expanded more? Is the issue technological, cultural, managerial, or..?”
Fantastic question. The issue definitely isn’t technological–at least from a capabilities standpoint. It may be from a design standpoint…but more on that later. I’d argue that it is indeed cultural and managerial, although some of that culture and management reflects back on us, the telemedicine solution providers.
We are presented with a quandary: 1) Where telemedicine has been systematically implemented, it has radically improved patient care, lowered costs, improved doctor/staff morale, and even increased revenue…even in the face of lingering payor reimbursement questions currently being worked out by insurers and state legislatures, and yet… 2) Adoption by both individual healthcare providers and organizations has been, well, lackluster, and often outright resisted.
The gap is caused because Read more
The question of reimbursement is very, very important. But not as important as you might think. As promised a couple weeks ago, we want to look more in depth at the third of our takeaways from the 2014 American Telehealth Conference…especially in light of new developments that have popped up in the news since then.
First, to bring new readers up …read more…
Last Thursday I promised to discuss our takeaways from the ATA conference individually in more detail, starting with
#1 We’re past the tipping point.
I won’t belabor the point of the overall importance of this takeaway, as you can read about it here. However, I will re-quote ATA CEO Jonathan Linkous because his numbers make a good launching point: “Today, 20 million Americans get some part of their healthcare remotely, and that number will grow as telemedicine expands its reach.” And the ATA President, Edward Brown, believes that mHealth/Telemedicine will grow by 50% every year.
Yes, we’re perhaps a little late with this posting. However, we think the key takeaways (for us) from this year’s ATA (American Telemedicine Association) conference are important enough to immortalize anyway.
#1 We’re past the tipping point.
This was such a key point that the ATA itself made sure to quote a speaker mentioning it before the conference even started:
Speaker Joe Peterson, CEO of Specialists on Call, said: “In 2013 telemedicine started passing many ‘tipping points,’ in multiple industry segments, making it a true moment in time to found, scale …read more…
Given the controvery over telework and the many opinions and meta-arguments voiced over the past few weeks, it seems important to get back to real world data.
Below are a few statistics from a European company that implemented a telework program:
- Productivity increase 15%
- Short illness decrease 20%
- Employee satisfaction increase 9%
- Commuter kilometers traveled decrease 30%
- Required office space decrease 50%
The clear message from this presentation was that technology alone isn’t the solution. These results were realized in large part due to strong implementation support and ongoing management (and measurement) of the results.
Another interesting message is that the savings pay for a lot of nice extras. For example, the company gave employees bluetooth headsets, desks, chairs, laptops or as they called it: a “suitcase” for telework to make sure that the employee was comfortable and had the tools to be productive at home. These things were “given” to the employees (a perk for them) and in the end cheaper than the company managing inventory in thousands of additional “offices.”
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