Tag Archives: Telemedicine

Skype 5.0 with Multipoint Video


The latest Skype, version 5.0 for Windows includes multi-point videoconferencing. We’ve tried it with up to four participants, and it works surprisingly well.  Skype fan-persons are waiting to figure out what the actual cost of this might be; right now multipoint is available for a 28 day free trial.  Point-to-point video calling works very well; on a par with the Polycom PVX application. We have tested on a variety of Windows platforms; Windows XP embedded, XP Pro, and Windows 7 Home and Pro with good and consistent results.  The interface is kind of a mess; but once the calls are connected, sound and video are outstanding. Like everyone else they are trying to integrate with FaceBook in version 5. 

Unfortunately, version 5 for some reason does not include the setting for receiving video calls full screen. So, our favorite application is broken in this version. Back to version 4.8!  
Linux and Mac versions of the Skype program are still miles behind the Windows version.  Multipoint video is promised soon for the Mac.  I have this fantasy, of a Linux version, with multi-point video, with a programmable interface that would allow stripping out all of the directory and calling stuff, and simply allow people to receive full-screen video calls.  Will this ever happen?

We’re also eagerly awaiting the SkypeKit, an updated version of the Skype API which should allow programmers to do wonderful things with Skype. Early beta users have been working on Skype TV applications that are embedded with some new televisions. We’d love to take part in the beta, but after being on the waiting list for some weeks, we are beginning to think we’ll never get the chance.  SkypeKit is due to be released in the first quarter of the new year. 

Single Payer Health Care – Sen. Bernie Sanders

In our morning paper there was an article about Bernie Sanders who has introduced legislation in the senate to establish a real single payer health care plan. This is not the watered down version promulgated by Obama and Senator Bauckus who are discouraging participation of single-payer advocates in the debate about revamping health care. I sent him a note.

Dear Senator Sanders:

Hi…. I was delighted to see coverage of your single-payer health care initiative this morning in the Free Press. I only hope that you’ll be able to convince your colleagues that have been corrupted by the insurance companies campaign contributions.

I don’t think this issue takes on the urgency that it might since all members of Congress are covered by a single payer government provided health care plan. Hey….all we want is what you guys have!

I’ve lived both in Canada (single payer), and German (hybrid single payer+employer system) and both systems were far superior to what ordinary Americans are able to get even in Burlington with Fletcher Allen and a high-deductible CIGNA policy obtained through the Chamber of Commerce.

The amount of energy and frustration to say nothing of the dollar cost that we personally invest in attempting to manage our personal health care is just crazy. And we are the “lucky” ones with health insurance, and good hospitals and doctors.

Thanks for your advocacy on this issue. It should be at the top of the everyone’s list.

— ——

I still like reading our printed paper. For one thing, it doesn’t provide ad-links to colon cleansing products. In fact the Gannett web site which hosts the paper (it is a Gannett paper) is a disaster.

Odds and Sods

New Honda Insight

Who knew that a car review could actually be funny? Too bad it is about the hybrid Honda Insight 2.0. I actually owned a 2001 Insight for about three weeks, but found it to be so tiny that I thought it wouldn’t be at all practical.  Exchanged it for the now “classic” Prius (sedan, not the egg) from 2003, and I’m hoping the Prius will last forever. I did walk around a new Insight parked in a lot last weekend, and marveled at the size (large and Prius-like) and the Ford-like slatted chrome grill. And the current version of the Accord looks like a Saturn.  What happened at the Honda styling studio?      

ATA Conference

I should probably have more to say about the American Telemedicine Association Conference that I attended earlier this month, but my participation was somewhat clouded by the fact that I was suffering from über-jet lag and a stomach bug throughout. I found the venue, Las Vegas, weird and distracting. I spent most of two days at the conference itself. Comparing it with the previous year in Seattle, it seemed more subdued, perhaps we’re all taking a breather in the down economy. Perhaps the most interesting thing was a thorough demo of the Intel Health-Guide device. This is now deployed in pilot projects. My own presentation, with video clips, went over well with our audience of perhaps fifty or so. Other presenters with whom I appeared showed frightening projections of alzheimer cases, child abuse, and situations of multiple co-morbidities (a fancy way of saying that a patient suffers from several major diseases at once). This reminded me of the current economic collapse as people prognosticated five years ago that the sub-prime lending was going to have a ripple effect throughout the American economy with effects that nobody would possible believe, like the bankruptcy of one or even two of the major auto companies. Well, health care in the U.S. is in the same position. In both cases, sub-prime lending, and employee-based health care, the consequences are (would have been) entirely avoidable, but people and government have to recognize when a business model has become unsustainable and have to have the fortitude to effect radical changes to that model.

Adobe Forms

With grants.gov and many federal agencies, Adobe PDF files rule. After experimenting with some intermediate ideas like PureEdge forms, which require a downloaded application, and which is restricted to the Windows platform, NIH, at least, has settled on a combination of javascript forms and Adobe forms and PDFs for assembling complex grant applications of  30-50 components.  Our state government has not caught up, and I found myself translating some Microsoft Word documents (not even Word forms) into Adobe forms and the process has gone pretty smoothly.  There are all sorts of good things to this evolution to PDFs, and the Adobe Acrobat and Reader programs should be high on the approved tools list for any kind of workflow that requires forms. 

Top 50 Healthcare 2.0 Blogs

RNCentral has posted a list of the 50 (fifty!) Healthcare 2.0 blogs, where Healthcare 2.0 is loosely defined as the transformation of health care delivery from a top-down process ordained by physicians, hospitals, and insurance companies, to a shared process involving patients, with  large dose of IT (electronic medical records, telemedicine, patient social networking) added in.  

Telemedicine moves from clinic to homes

This is a background article discussing the use of telemedicine monitoring for home patients by the use of home health agencies.

In the future, I do not think that
home health agencies will be able to
survive if they are not using some sort
of telehealth technology to care for patients.
The whole goal of healthcare today
is to move toward self-care, and
telehealth can have a great impact on
improving patient self-care.

Found in Telemedicine and eHealth.