for mobility and power efficiency, videoconferencing components should be designed for mobile applica- tions. Input power to the codec, for example, should be DC voltage and not AC. If a codec has AC power input, the mobile workstation would require an AC inverter. This adds an extra power conversion step, costing between 5 and 15 percent in power efficiency. Designing the codec for wide-input DC voltage adds to the efficiency of the device and eliminates a DC- to-DC converter for regulated DC voltage. These are relatively feasible adjustments when considered and incorporated at the design phase.
Wireless LAN connectivity
In order to achieve true mobility at the point of care, a mobile telehealth system should be wireless. Although currently available hardware codecs offer only wired network con- nectivity, a wireless client bridge can be utilized until wire- less LAN becomes part of the basic design of a mobile codec. Enterprise- class wireless LAN security and roam- ing capability are key considerations when choosing a client bridge. In addition, ensur- ing that a mobile telehealth work- station is compat- ible for wireless in some fashion is vital to enabling proper care.
Image quality/ monitor size Unlike room or desktop sys- tems that re- quire large monitors to en-
hance the image quality and teleconference experi- ence, mobile telehealth systems do not necessarily require large, high-end monitors. Appropriate video conferencing gear for the mobile telehealth work- station – notwithstanding available bandwidth – is the key to delivering a desired quality image at the consulting clinician side. This is where a high-quality image may be desired or even necessary. For the mobile computing workstation, a 22-inch monitor is more than adequate for delivering the image quality required at the patient side, without breaking the mobile power budget.
When designing videoconference hardware codecs, most vendors are designing for room or desktop systems without consideration for mobility or power consumption.
When considering a telehealth solution, size, footprint and weight of the workstation are just as important for delivering enhanced, efficient patient care as the aforementioned factors. Because space is often limited within patient rooms, a small-form- factor telehealth workstation makes it easy for clini- cians to work around or maneuver the workstation. In fact, when all of the above criteria are taken into consideration, the result is a small, maneuverable workstation that delivers quality, efficient telehealth at the point of care.
Summary From a system design approach, a mobile tele- health workstation should have the right battery chemistry, efficient teleconference equipment, wire- less connectivity, proper size monitor and small form factor. Above all, the workstation should be intuitive to use and reliable. Only then will clinicians be able to devote their full attention to the most important task at hand: taking care of the patient. Through a system design approach, health- care organizations can achieve the full potential of telemedicine by improving patient outcomes while containing costs and increasing overall clinician efficiency.
The article represents views of the author and not necessarily those of InterMetro Industries (Metro).
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