Monthly Archives: June 2014

American Medical Association Supports Telehealth

Sometimes when you are trying to move forward with a big initiative, you need an ally. When it comes to big industries like healthcare, sometimes you need a few allies, but for the Telemedicine industry, they just got the support they were looking for and it came in a big way.

Over the past couple of years, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) along with a number of other healthcare technology associations have been fighting for the recognition of remote healthcare also commonly referred to as Telehealth and Telemedicine to be given additional consideration by the healthcare and insurance industries to see that more of these services are made available and funded by their respective organizations. This past week the American Medical Association (AMA) provided a big boost to this initiative by approving a list of guiding principles for the use of telemedicine as a qualified doctor-patient engagement.

According to one article that went more into the details of the 8 page guiding principles found on the Healthcare IT News website, Telehealth gets big boost from AMA, the need for the AMA to get involved was two fold. First there needed to be more consistency in the terminology and definitions of telehealth and second there needs to be more consistent financial support from the insurance companies approving this type of care.

The intent is that telehealth based services can truly be equivalent to in-office visits therefore eliminating much of the red tape that has limited the advancement of telemedicine into the mainstream of healthcare services.

At Avidex we believe in technology as a vehicle to drive the business outcomes your healthcare organization is looking to achieve. With the experience and passion to serve, we are certain we can help your organization achieve a number of its technology and business goals. Ready to learn more? Get in touch with one of our team members today.

Shedan Maghzi

About Shedan Maghzi

Shedan Maghzi - Avidex President has been directly involved in the AV industry for over 25 years. Maghzi joined Avidex in February of 2004 as General Manager of Northern California. He later advanced into the position of Vice President of Avidex’s Fremont, CA office, one of the nation’s most successful audiovisual groups providing design, systems integration and support services. Maghzi has held a wide range of leadership positions in the AV industry including Project Manager, AV Consultant, Director of Technical Services and General Manager with leading San Francisco Bay Area audiovisual firms. Shedan can be reach at smaghzi@avidexav.com

Avidex – TeleHealth

Avidex TelehealthFor many years, when meeting with senior executives of TeleHealth’s partners, they would often request an expansion of their industry- leading service to provide post install support for various AV systems in their hospitals. Although out of their scope of offerings at the time, this feedback led to the exploration of an exceptional AV integrator. The many synergies, expertise, and the needed focus for AV solutions in the healthcare market, provided the perfect springboard to merge the two providers.

In November of 2012, Avidex, one of the top AV design/build firms in the country, was acquired by Telerent Leasing Corporation as a strategic initiative in response to this market need. Telerent is the parent company of TeleHealth Services, a leading interactive patient care and television solution providers. This strategic partnership has better positioned both companies to serve the unique needs of the healthcare market. As discussed previously – Why Technical Expertise Matters –  when it comes to healthcare audiovisual and technology integration, it is best to utilize a firm that successfully leverages its technical expertise and experience within this specialized market.

Now as the CEO of Avidex, I am excited to meet with TeleHealth customers and describe how Avidex has the technical expertise and capability to bring relief to this area of need in their operations.

Avidex was incorporated in 2004, but has its roots going back to the early 1980’s. Since the beginning, and stated in the name (Audio Video Integration and Design Excellence) the company has been driven by the “service the customer first” philosophy. As an award winning team of AV industry veterans that has done thousands of systems for major global companies, it continues to implement a broad range of technologies that allow doctors, teachers, nurses, clinicians and administrators to communicate effectively. The focus on quality extends beyond product, to how it is used, total system reliability in critical environments and support throughout the system’s life-cycle.

Avidex’s deep healthcare experience at nationally recognized medical schools and leading health systems, combined with TeleHealth’s leadership in patient television solutions, positions us to offer a wide range of integrated solutions for hospitals, medical office buildings and teaching institutions including digital signage, sound masking, video conferencing, meeting/collaboration rooms, boardrooms and multi-use spaces that may also be used for emergency operation rooms.

TeleHealth Services was founded in 1957, and for the last 57 years has been the leading national technology company serving the healthcare industry with solutions ranging from full scale integrations to bedside television solutions and interactive patient education systems. Together, Avidex and TeleHealth will continue to develop solutions to meet the needs of the rapidly changing healthcare technology landscape.

Joel Harris

About Joel Harris

Joel Harris brings invaluable insight to the Avidex team in his role as CEO, with years of experience leading national technology, healthcare and business organizations. You can reach Joel at jharris@avidexav.com

IS TELEMEDICINE TECHNOLOGY TOO HARD TO USE?

polycom web site photo for Scotts articleHuman Factors – Intersecting Humans with Communication Technology

Is telemedicine technology too complicated? As communication technologies continue to advance, more and more tasks can be completed online via computers, or mobile devices. Visiting your doctor can be a very personal and somewhat intimate experience. Imagine the day when the best suited doctor will be able to see a patient, provide a diagnosis, or perform procedures using video conference over the internet. With the right technology, these advanced techniques are happening today and are saving time and money!

The trend began with telemedicine. This allowed doctors, and other medical professionals, to provide healthcare in emergency situations to areas that were otherwise too remote to reach in person in time to provide assistance. Then, telemedicine gave way to telehealth. Telehealth expanded the concept of remote healthcare, connecting medical professionals all over the globe. This allowed anyone to provide assistance to anyone else, anywhere in the world.

Telehealth AV technology can include everything from video teleconferences to emergency messaging systems, and much more. Through the use of telehealth, doctors are able to not only consult with one another digitally, but to monitor patients, provide training, and even perform surgery via robotic linkup.

The Human Factor
On the surface, it seems like healthcare AV technology is the best thing to happen to since the invention of penicillin. But it does raise some important questions: Is this technology reliable? Can you really trust the diagnosis from a doctor halfway across the globe? The AV technology itself is state of the art and proven to be dependable. The medical field has very high standards, as their tools must often be used in life or death situations. The AV technology used for telehealth in medical facilities is therefore rigorously tested before use, to make sure it’s reliable. But what about the human factor?

A doctor may know medicine better than anyone on the planet. But do they know AV technology well enough to use Telehealth effectively in an emergency situation? Is it too complicated to use reliably? Could pressing the wrong button at the wrong time result in a lapse in patient care? Telehealth can provide tremendous benefits to the medical world, it’s true. But if the technology is too difficult to use, then there is also the potential for tremendous detriment. Is it really worth the risk?

Simplifying Telehealth AV Technology
Any kind of digital technology can be intimidating to those unfamiliar with it. AV technology developers recognize that everyone has different levels of digital functionality. And a patient’s life shouldn’t be dependent on whether or not their doctor knows how to operate a software based piece of medical hardware. It is my firm belief that telehealth systems need to meet two critical criteria. First, they need to be able to be operated with only a very basic knowledge of standardized controls (limited special knowledge and training required). Consider the automobile industry. Regardless of the type of vehicle, the steering wheel, gas pedal, and brake are always in the same place. Second, they need to be compatible with multiple technology platforms. What good is an AV telehealth cart when the first time you try to use it you find out that the doctor on the far end is using an iPad, or mac, and those formats can’t connect with that cart? Unfortunately, some of the manufacturers of these technologies today are developing their own hardware and software but haven’t considered compatibility with other devices and technologies. This is where consulting with strong technology partners is so critical.

When it comes to medicine and patient health, you can’t take any chances. That’s why telehealth AV technology developers work hard to create systems that anyone can use to the fullest potential. That way, the human factor is eliminated, and doctors can focus on what they do best: providing quality medical care to those who need it most, wherever they may be.

Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at bobh@avidexav.com

Telemedicine To Drive Safer Sports and Concussion Management

Ambulance on football fieldOver the past few years there has been a lot of discussion and debate relating to athletes and the management of head trauma. From Pee Wee football to the NFL, this has been a hot topic. For those of us living and playing (or with kids who play) sports in urban settings, we don’t think much of it. Access to healthcare in the event of an emergency is right around the corner. However, while many people may live in urban areas, only a small percentage of the land across the states is defined as urban. Meaning, for some, access to the required care may not be so available for some.

In a recent Daily Record article Telemedicine could help schools assess concussions the tone is set by exploring what it may be like when a high school student athlete takes a hit and is believed to be concussed. The nearest treatment facility doesn’t have the type of specialist to give the proper attention to this incident and the nearest neurological specialist is hundreds of miles away. What can be done?

Many healthcare professionals are looking at ways that telemedicine could help better handle these types of situations. In fact, the Mayo Clinic recently teamed up with the University of Arizona to explore how real time analysis could be done on the field with potentially concussed athletes. While nothing has been widely rolled out, what comes to mind is having specialists available on demand to perform on field exams using a tablet and high resolution camera. Just imagine what this could do for better treatment of athletes?

Even if on the field care is too far away, telemedicine at the local care center could be a giant step in providing more immediate care for athletes who may have head trauma. What we do know for sure is this is one very solid application for Telemedicine and Telehealth technology.

At Avidex we work with our healthcare organizations to utilize technology to meet their most important business and patient objectives. From Telepresence to Wayfinding and so much more, how can we help your organization leverage the best technology available?

Anthony Paoletti

About Anthony Paoletti

Anthony brings over 23 years of audiovisual experience and has worn nearly every "hat" in the industry; from Consultant to End User; Account Representative to Install Technician; Project Manager to Systems Engineer. Contact Anthony at apaoletti@avidexav.com

Better Care and Cost Savings by Increasing Adoption of Telehealth Services

In today’s healthcare marketplace the ability to match the needs of patients with the resources available is difficult. This rings especially true when health care organizations aren’t able to provide the most optimal level of care due to “Technical” limitations.

Today, Medicare is having this very problem with strict limits on if and how they can use technology to deliver healthcare services. Right now, the limitations are primarily bureaucratic rather than technical because Accountable Care Organizations are limiting how healthcare providers can be reimbursed for providing technology based care to patients. However, the good news is a number of leading organizations are working together to try and change the way Medicare reimbursements are handled for Telehealth and Telemedicine Services. Check out this link from EHR Intelligence “Groups urge Medicare to widen telemedicine options for ACOs.”

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and a coalition of other groups that support Telehealth services have provided a letter to the department of health and human services outlining that 80% of American’s don’t have access to the type of technology based care required for approval by Medicare and this is severely limiting the delivery of patient care and driving up costs. According to these groups it is believed that better care and cost savings could be seen with the increased adoption of Telehealth services. What do you think?

At Avidex, we believe that Telehealth and Healthcare Technology can drive better patient care and outcomes. Find out how we can help your organization utilize technology by getting in touch with our team.

Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at bobh@avidexav.com

DIGITAL SIGNAGE AND EMERGENCY MESSAGING – Digital signage can communicate, educate, inform and entertain

Digital SignWhat’s the quickest, most effective way to get a message out to a large number of people in the same general area? Post a sign. A large, clear sign can be used to communicate anything from, “Caution: Wet Floor” to “Meeting Moved to Conference Hall B,” and much more. But what if you constantly have new information to provide to your employees, or to your patients? What if there are new bulletins every day that need to go out? Or some sort of emergency, for which you need to get the information out quickly? What if the sign you posted earlier has an error and needs to be changed in a hurry and everyone alerted to the change? What can you do? The solution is digital signage.

Communicating Digitally En Masse

Digital signage can be many things, but generally refers to a large display or series of displays that can present information, either text, images, or both, on a video screen. Whereas a fixed sign has only a limited amount of space for its message, a digital sign’s capacity is potentially limitless. It can scroll through a longer message if necessary and it can be interactive. It can be programmed to rotate through several different messages over a given period of time. And most importantly, it can be changed and updated quickly and frequently, to reflect the latest information or announcements, and keep everyone up to date.

Digital signage can be a very helpful tool in hospitals, medical office buildings and other healthcare facilities. A digital sign can be used to display patient names, to let them know that their prescription is ready to be picked up. It can inform patients of any special instructions or information to keep in mind during their visit. It can also be useful to employees, providing them with a continually updating list of patients who are currently waiting for care.

There are a variety of other fields wherein digital signage can be helpful. Whether you have regular announcements or a continual stream of information to communicate, a digital sign is the best way to keep everyone informed in a building, on a campus, or on multiple campuses.

Digital Signage Networking

Digital signage content can also be displayed across multiple locations. Since the signs are all connected to a network (which is how they’re updated), you can stream content from a single source to all of your signs in different buildings across town or across the country, so that everyone gets the message immediately. You can make generic announcements, personalize them for each location, or remotely send an individual message to a single sign.

Digital signage is a great way of providing more than just announcements and emergency information. If you have a captive audience, such as in a lobby, or a hospital waiting room, you can provide a variety of helpful content to keep people occupied and informed while they wait. You can provide a local news feed, traffic and weather updates, a map of the building to help them locate their next destination, or just a cycle of advertising or branded content, to keep your company on their minds.

There are a variety of reasons why you might need to communicate information publicly to employees, customers, patients, or casual bystanders. Whether it’s an emergency situation that requires an urgent alert, or simple background content to help pass the time, digital signage is the best, most efficient way to get the word out.

Jim Colquhoun

About Jim Colquhoun

Jim Colquhoun is the Chief Technologist for Avidex. Jim brings an exceptional record of management and operational experience, as well as expertise in the design and integration of communications, AV, and broadcast systems. Jim can be reached at jcolquhoun@avidexav.com

Enter The Operating Room Of The Future

operating room of the futureJust how much will technology invade the operating room of the future? In a world where robots are performing highly complicated surgical procedures; the answer is quite a bit.

How about beyond the operating table and into the surrounding environment? How much is technology going to impact the immediate surroundings of the patient? For a long time we have seen screens and monitoring devices, but will consumerization and high tech gadgets find their way into the ER?

According to this provocative piece in Fast Company – Inside The Operating Room Of The Future, Where Doctors Use Google Glass, the future of the Operating Room is here. In an exploration of Kaiser Permanente’s Garfield Innovation Center in California, the use of Telepresence, Interactive Digital Monitors and even Google Glass is already being put into production. Well, not quite production, but darn close.

At the featured facility Doctors are operating on “Humanoids” in these high tech environments where the focus is the most advanced technology and the perfection of the medical checklist with the expectation that interactive technology can reduce human error and improve doctor performance.

At Avidex we provide leading healthcare facilities with the very best technologies including telepresence and high-tech monitors that can be utilized throughout healthcare facilities. If you want to learn more about how we can help, get in touch with one of our account representatives. We look forward to hearing from you.

Jim Colquhoun

About Jim Colquhoun

Jim Colquhoun is the Chief Technologist for Avidex. Jim brings an exceptional record of management and operational experience, as well as expertise in the design and integration of communications, AV, and broadcast systems. Jim can be reached at jcolquhoun@avidexav.com

Healthcare DIGITAL SIGNAGE AND WAYFINDING

hospital-digital-signageWhich healthcare Digital Signage (DS) and Wayfinding (WF) solution is right for you? And is it worth the cost?  There may be no better (or safer) answer to this question than, it depends. To use an example, asking this question is like asking someone shopping for an automobile: Do you want a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle, or a 2014 Ferrari 458GT? Both can get you there, but they have very different looks, features, performance characteristics, maintenance requirements and cost factors. They do the same thing in very different ways, but both are automobiles.

Digital Signage and Wayfinding are a means of communication to inform, educate and/or entertain. Within these product categories there are a wide range of products and services available with a wide range of prices to match.

On the surface, Digital Signage and Wayfinding seem pretty straightforward. Put up some TV’s and send them a signal. But wait, this only brings a flurry of additional questions such as:

• What signal?
• What information?
• Is it public, or private?
• Is it copyrighted, copy protected, or unknown?
• Will more than one thing be displayed simultaneously?
• How frequently will it be shown?
• Does it run 24/7?
• Does the content change with time/date or some other factor?
• Who has responsibility for the content?
• Is it more than one person, or department?
• Should this tie into the EMS (Emergency Messaging System)?
• How much does it cost?

These questions, and more, are part of the process of defining what digital signage can do for your “specific” purpose, or purposes. The good thing is, most products have options, and many systems have built-in flexibility that allows them to be customized to suit your need.

When it comes to this type (or any) of technology, there is no reason investing a single dollar until the goal is defined, and a decision is made on content. This should be priority one. Who is going to create it, modify it, and approve it before it goes to a display? This can be done internally, or outsourced. It can be owned on a private network, or cloud based with a monthly fee.

Digital Signage and Wayfinding at their best are networked and managed remotely. Yes, network topology and bandwidth are critical factors when planning and supporting a successful DS/WF system. The IT Department will be involved in the process. The good news is DS/WF components are similar to many other devices on the network. Content type, resolution, and update frequency will have to be considered to keep the network happy.

Displays come is many sizes, types and resolutions. They can be used in portrait or landscape mode. They can go in spaces that are small or large, public or private. They can even go in elevators, lobbies, waiting rooms, break rooms, and ER’s. When it comes down to it, with a little planning, the displays can go just about anywhere that power and signal feeds can be located.

As for content, this can also come in a range of formats. On the simple side, PowerPoint, or some similar software, can be used to create and update information directly to a display, or to a thumb drive. Some display manufacturers are including built-in digital signage in their product offering. This is often an inexpensive way to do a basic system. For more advanced applications there are a plethora of great software solutions for creating, managing and distributing content.

Perhaps the easiest way to explain this is that Wayfinding is in many ways similar to Digital Signage, with the biggest difference being the specific purpose. Generally, Wayfinding is used to supplement, or replace fixed signage, where information needs to be updated on a regular basis like conference centers, meeting rooms, training areas or other places in the hospital where information is updated frequently.

Just remember these 2 things when planning your Digital Signage and/or Wayfinding project. First, like any successful project, it is best to start with a goal in mind and work back through the multitude of options. And second, content is king. Start with the messaging and the other parts of the system will follow.

Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at bobh@avidexav.com