INTEROP - Customers talk up videoconferencing benefits

Videoconferencing can save time, money and eliminate travel-related stress

Another videoconferencing customer, Adena Health System in Chillicothe, Ohio, uses the technology to aid medical professionals in Columbus, Ohio, making evaluations of newborns over the 70-mile link. As a result of the technology, supported by a Cisco network, doctors can make videoconference diagnoses and share tests and imaging, which has reduced by half the need to transfer tiny patients to Columbus since being implemented in 2006, said Marcus Bost, CIO at Adena.

The videoconferencing was made possible with a US$1 million network refresh and an additional US$100,000 for the videoconferencing-related gear, he said. Eliminating a single trip for a patient cuts out US$40,000 in transfer costs, and relieves stress for the patients and their families, he added.

Bost said that videoconferencing technology in medical settings is becoming so important that he envisions a day in 10 years when a remote doctor over a network link can interview and partly examine a patient via a clinical robot, with the doctor's face displayed on a video display on the robot's head.

Bob Brumm, senior systems programmer for Tampa Electric Co., said that Tandberg videoconferencing products have been installed in 30 locations at US$10,000 to $15,000 per endpoint. The systems grew to 30 locations last year, after only seven in 2006, and is being used primarily for daily and weekly planning conferences to make sure a power plant's operation is optimal.

"This technology takes off," he said. "People like it. It's going to be more important as gas and travel costs grow."

Another customer, Beth Melsky Casting in New York, has been using Polycom high-definition videoconferencing for about a year in assisting television advertising directors find actors in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles without needing to travel. "High-def is very important to us, since directors are looking for subtle differences in talent, from hair color to eyes," said Morgan Fisher, a partner in the business.

"Directors were leery about relying on videoconferencing for auditions until the introduction of HD. It's been a great bump for us," he added.

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