Interactive Televideo (ITV)
The KU Center for Telemedicine & Telehealth offers telemedicine services through interactive televideo for consultations between health care providers and patients.
The selection of an ITV system is based on several factors, including the purpose of the system, system mobility and available space. Equipment for a clinical application most often includes a codec, a video coder-decoder application; a monitor; at least one camera; and a small cart to transport the equipment between exam rooms.
KUCTT is upgrading its system to utilize only high-definition codecs and 32-inch HD flat-panel monitors in the clinics. The latter are able to display higher-resolution video streams and require less space than traditional tube televisions. Smaller or larger monitors may be required for other applications.
In addition to mobile equipment, new technology now allows for stationary systems with high-quality video and audio connections to be placed on a provider's desk. This is accomplished through a stand-alone desktop ITV system or through a combination of hardware and software installed on the provider's computer. The advantage of this model is that providers can conduct telemedicine clinics from the convenience of their offices, using the same computer hardware they use to access email, electronic health records and other information.
Several brands of ITV systems are available on the market and most are compatible with one another. KUCTT has connected with ITV systems in Asia, Australia, Europe and South America.
Bandwidth refers to the amount of data, including video and voice, which can be transmitted at one time. At a higher bandwidth, more video data can be transferred, resulting in a better image. KUCTT transmits most of its clinical consults at 384 Kbps using H.323 Internet Protocol. HD videoconferencing can be done at these lower speeds, but true HD can only be obtained at 1Mbps of bandwidth or higher. Even at a bandwidth lower than1Mbps, HD systems provide better image quality than standard definition systems at the same speed.
KUCTT uses Internet Protocol to connect telemedicine sites. IP offers more flexibility and greater availability than the older ISDN connections.
Peripherals are devices that enhance the ability of the health provider to see and hear the patient even when they are miles apart. These devices differentiate telemedicine from video conferencing.
KU Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth uses a variety of peripherals:
- Digital Stethoscopes: Using the data channel, digital stethoscopes transmit heart and lung sounds across the same H.323 IP connection used for the telemedicine link.
- Otoscope Camera: Similar to a standard otoscope, this device transmits a clear picture of the patient's ear, nose or throat. This camera is used extensively in the TeleKidcare® project.
- General Examination Camera or "Dermascope": A camera with a very short focal length designed for extremely close, detailed video of the skin. It is frequently used for dermatological, burn and wound-care consults.
- Intra-oral Scope: The intra-oral scope is a lighted camera designed to show the teeth, tonsils, throat and other oral structures.