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Telemedicine

How to achieve the full potential of telemedicine

Hospitals can enhance mobility to promote quality and cost-effective care by utilizing the proper telehealth solution.

By Fouad Abu-Akel T

elemedicine – which is defined for this article as the use of videoconference ca- pabilities to bring together clinicians and patients, regardless of geography – provides a powerful solution to help healthcare organizations contain costs and deliver quality care. Mobile com- puting workstations play a key role in the success of telehealth programs by enabling clinicians to bring the technology to a patient at the point of care while connecting him or her to a clinician at a different location.

Building a telehealth workstation with enhanced mobility and a reliable design that supports the specific applications clinicians need remains a major challenge. Explored in depth below, these issues include: power system options, energy efficiency of videoconferencing components, wireless LAN connectivity, form factor, image quality and moni- tor size.

Power system options For mobile systems, power is a major consider-

ation. From a system design approach, it is critical that the on-board power is compatible with the dif- ferent components on the workstation to provide the clinician with sufficient “unplugged” run time at the point of care.

Fouad Abu-Akel is director of global applications development, Metro. For more information on Metro solutions: www.rsleads.com/011ht-205

Current battery chem- istries for mobile applica- tions include sealed lead acid (SLA), nickel met- al hydride (NiMH) and lithium nanophosphate (LiNano). Each has differ- ent capabilities and cost.

The SLA battery, for example, has a low initial cost but low energy density, which means a heavy power supply is necessary to provide the required mobile power. Performance of SLA also degrades rapidly over its 300-cycle life. By contrast, the NiMH battery has

16 November 2010

a moderate initial cost, almost twice the energy density of SLA, and has a con- sistent performance over 90 percent of its 1,000-cycle life. The LiNano battery has a moderate initial cost, more than three times the energy densi- ty of SLA, and provides a consistent perfor- mance over more than 3,000 cycles.

Understanding the characteristics of these batteries can be used to accomplish different goals. The needs for each mo- bile telehealth workstation must be carefully evaluated in order to select the right battery chemistry for its purpose.

Energy efficiency of videoconferencing components

When designing videocon- ference hardware codecs, most vendors are designing for room or desktop systems without consideration for mobility or power consumption. Co- decs designed for mobil- ity should be designed from the ground up, with power efficiency at the forefront of design rather than viewed as an afterthought. Just as laptops are designed

HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY www.healthmgttech.com

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