Telecare Soapbox: Eight reasons why current telemedicine videoconferencing technology isn’t good enough

Skip Rodenbush, Founder and CEO of Interactive Multimedia Artists expounds on why current telemedicine videoconferencing has such high barriers to adoption. See end of the article for information on the new system his company has developed.

The new healthcare delivery system depends heavily on the wide deployment of scalable and manageable telemedicine. Traditional telemedicine technologies do not meet these requirements. Instead they offer expensive, unmanageable and overall impractical solutions.

1. Telemedicine video calls can’t transfer like phone calls
Operating any business without the ability to answer and transfer phone calls would be impossible. In telemedicine transferring video calls is not an option. This single inability represents the biggest technological roadblock to wide deployment of telemedicine.
For telemedicine to scale and reach where it is needed most its video must be switchable.

2. Calls must be point-to-point
Since telemedicine video calls can’t switch, sessions are restricted to predefined point-of-care locations and predefined-defined specialist locations. This limits care only to specialists that are physically at these locations.

3. Telemedicine requires scheduling
Telemedicine systems are shared resources which require users to make reservations and schedule times for sessions.

4. Systems are complex and expensive
Telemedicine systems are integrations of business videoconferencing, PCs and various medical diagnostic devices. Clinicians must be technologically adept to operate them plus they are expensive. Point-of-care endpoints cost $25,000-$50,000. Multi-party conferencing bridges add $50,000 to $250,000+ depending on the size of the medical network.

5. Difficult to use and support
Systems do not have simple, intuitive, user interfaces to make the complex technology transparent and facilitate care. Conversely, users must know hardware and software operation including how to detect and correct technical problems.

6. Many points of failure
Telemedicine systems integrate audio, video, diagnostic devices, computer data, videoconferencing gear and IP networks. Each input and connection is a potential point of failure exacerbated by constantly moving the system within a facility.

7. Not scalable or ubiquitous
Telemedicine systems are an eclectic assortment of special purpose hardware and software lacking standards, interoperability and making scalability and ubiquity virtually impossible.

8. Can’t integrate with existing IT
Telemedicine is an overlay to existing health information technology (HIT) systems converging only through physical hardware connections.

What Telemedicine technology needs to be

Telemedicine technology needs to be as simple to use as touching a button, on a PC, Laptop, Notebook or Smartphone. Ubiquitous from daycare to eldercare and everywhere in between and so economical that affordability is not an issue.

Specifically, telemedicine needs a solution to facilitate communication and collaboration among patients, primary physicians, specialists, healthcare teams, even payers. A solution enabling telemedicine sessions to take place on-the-fly while adapting to the way clinicians work – not forcing them to adapt to the technology.

About IMA
Interactive Multimedia Artists (IMA) has developed the Virtual Specialist™ which is a systemic approach that converts existing PCs into telemedicine terminals and existing IP networks into integrated health information networks. The claim is that Virtual Specialist is a practical and cost-effective solution that leverages existing infrastructure to bring patients, provider and payer together, be they in the same building or miles apart.

Interactive Multimedia Artists
Phoenix, Arizona

Categories: Soapbox.


  1. Laura Mitchell - GrandCare Systems

    simple and easy to use
    Thanks for posting Skip! I couldn’t agree more – it should be simple, easy to use and of course HAS to be ubiquitous. We’re getting there!!!