Telehealth: When Video Conferencing helps Medicine

January 9th, 2018 by ali No comments »

Telehealth, alias video conferencing applied to medicine, enables doctors to reach the patients that are dispersed on a wide territory at acceptable costs. In this way, it becomes possible to provide efficient health care services to rural communitie, despite ofthe funding cuts on hospitals

Imagine a scenario when a hospital with shrinking financial resources has to take care of a population widely dispersed on the territory and with a high percentage of children with heart diseases.  In the past, this meant to spend a lot of time and money on promptly dispatching ambulances, doctors and health personnel kilometers away to rescue someone that was about to die in a remote farm or hut; today, telehealth makes everything simpler and – last but not least – less expensive. In fact, in a world where babies learn first to use a tablet, than to walk, the application of video conferencing to healthcare can really make miracles.

In the given example, the necessary ongoing monitoring of the young patients with heart diseases has been made through Telehealth, anything else then a system of video conferencing. A video conference can be also helpful to alert the doctor when a patient shows worrying symptoms. In this way, the doctors working for the local hospital can take a close eye even on distant patients, without any need to physically bring them to a medical facility, and – the main important point – with substantial money saving.

Health diseases are not the only ones that can be managed through telehealth. Telemedicine schemes can be applied to a wide set of illnesses, as the power of modern video conferencing technology enables doctors to recognize symptoms even through a video conference.

More, this technology has been proved to be really effective on promoting cooperation among doctors and hospitals. Video conferencing solutions like, for example, R-Hub`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com), enable health-personnel to exchange important information like scans, exams, and  medical records in a video conference without any impairment of the privacy of the patients or any risk of data leaking. This aspect is particularly relevant, as in many countries the Law wants patient information to be kept confidential and health personnel are responsible for that.

Does telemedicine really work? According to many doctors’ opinions, yes, it does. It has certainly helped to save lives because video-conferencing allowed rapid action that couldn’t have been possible without. This is another reason to adopt this technology, apart from the usual financial considerations.

However, budget is important. According to a research published by the blog “Fierce Healthcare”, through telemedicine patients are able to save about 50$ in travel costs per visit and hospitals 25$. Then, it should be added the savings in terms of fewer days of hospitalization. In a world of decreasing financial resources for healthcare, video conferencing could thus become a strategic asset for any health facilities: Consider that only in the US cuts in health care are over 1.8 trillion dollars in 2018 (source:https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/26/16526458/2018-senate-budget-explained) , and Europe is going to follow soon.

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The 3 most Important Parameters to consider when configuring a Video Conferencing service for Virtual Workplaces

January 8th, 2018 by ali No comments »

Bandwidth, audio quality and room assessment are the three fundamental variables on which the effectiveness of any video conference service for virtual workplaces depends

As almost everybody knows, video conferences have become one the most important components of any virtual workplace, as they contribute to enhance workforce productivity, decision making, team building and customer support. However, like any technology, video conferencing meets the expectations of business organizations only when it has been properly configured.

What are the crucial parameters of which to take care, in order to have an effective video conferencing service for your business? The answer is quite simple: they are audio and video quality, bandwidth size and room assessment. Let’s see why.

1) Audio and video quality. The more powerful the audio and video quality is, the most similar to the real world the experience of the participants to your virtual events will be. This means much, especially in terms of communication. Consider that human communication is mostly non-verbal, and a significant part of the message gets lost during its transmission through a virtual environment.

The idea behind video conferencing is exactly to preserve the contents of the exchanged messages as much as possible, so that the experience in a virtual workplace resembles the one in a real office. This decreases a lot the risks of misunderstandings and makes the virtual office a quite comfortable place where to work with consequent increases in productivity and speed.

Poor video and audio quality will inevitably make your collaborators slower (they have to make up for the loss in communication) and the virtual environment uncomfortable, with the result to loose most benefits of video conferencing.

2) Bandwidth Size. We can compare bandwidth to the capacity of a pipeline. If the pipeline is large enough, data stream fast and without obstacle; if the pipeline is too narrow, data slow down with subsequent hassles, like image overlapping and lack of synchronization.

The result is that the quality of the video becomes so poor that it is impossible to keep attending the meeting for participants. The solution usually taken by users is to fall back to text chats, with the loss of the benefits of real stream collaboration through video conferencing.

This is the reason why it is so much important to optimize the bandwidth size when your organization plans to install a video conferencing service. The operation is not complicated in itself (there are some helpful formulas available to reckon how much bandwidth is necessary), and it can be made by any technician.

3) Room Assessment. The physical place where your team stays during video conferences must be conveniently arranged, in order to avoid the participants of your video conferences some common and annoying issues like, for example, data security threatens (people that spy passwords), noise  inconveniences  and incorrect backgrounds. A good practice is to devote a special room to video conferencing with white walls, minimal furniture, good insolation, proper enlightening, comfortable layout and microphones and cams already adjusted, so that to minimize inconveniences.

If you are interested in virtual workplaces and their problems, you are going to find further helpful resources and posts on R-HUB`s blog at http://www.rhubcom.com

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The Importance of Bandwidth for Video Conferencing

December 30th, 2017 by ali No comments »

Does your video conference glitch? Probably the cause could be poor bandwidth. Let’s examine the importance of this factor in video conferencing quality

Video conferencing is not exactly as the videos that you enjoy on YouTube. While internet video clips are reproduced by downloading some portions of the footage ahead of time, in video conferencing data are sent in real time in small chunks.

So, why bandwidth is important? According to Wikipedia, bandwidth is the information capacity of your system expressed in bits. In other words, bandwidth measures the capacity to process data of your network by quantity. Imagine your network as a hydraulic system made of pipes and valves, where the data streaming through it are like water; bandwidth is similar to the capacity of pipes expressed in liters per second.

Now, what happens in a physical hydraulic system, when the pressure (the quantity of liters per second) is too high? Usually, a pipe breaks down somewhere and the water spills out. In IT, data networks (the IT equivalent of pipes) cannot break (luckily); therefore, the solution cannot but stop the data stream and keep it waiting while your system processes the first chunks of data that arrived. The analogy could be with a traffic tail; the drivers in the back of the tail have to wait that the drivers ahead go past the traffic light or the road junction before moving on.

Obviously, the larger the road (or the pipe), the higher the quantity of cars (or water) it is able to hold without traffic tail (or breaks in the pipes). Same in IT: the larger the bandwidth, the bigger the quantity your network can process without data delay. When bandwidth is set properly, the result is smooth video conferencing, without frame-stops, jerking images and glitches.

How to understand what is the right amount of bandwidth for your needs? Actually, there is a formula that can help: video Bandwidth (in MB per second) = Users + conference room system capability X 2 Mbps (max call rate) x concurrent utilization in % + 10% (protocol overhead).

For example, let’s imagine  a scenario with five simultaneous calls for every 100 users that share an internet connection. It means a concurrent utilization of 5%. If the capacity of your room systems is 10 Mbps, the formula becomes: 100+10 x 2 x 5% + 10% = about 250 Mbps of bandwidth capacity.

When the bandwidth allowed is too much, we have what it is called over optimization; your video conferences will fly, but you will spend too much money, as bandwidth costs. When it is too little, your video conferences start jerking and the stream slows down.

Naturally, bandwidth is not the only parameter to take into account when deciding how many resources to assign to your video conferencing system. Furthermore, some factors like cloud based video conferencing services can affect in some way our calculations. However, bandwidth requirements of video conferencing tools are usually written in their user manuals.

If you are interested in video conferencing and its best practices, you are going to find further resources and useful articles and posts in R-HUB`s blog at http://www.rhubcom.com

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How to Prevent Hackers from Spying your company’s Web Conferences

December 29th, 2017 by ali No comments »

Your video conferencing equipment can be actually used by hackers to spy your virtual meetings.  Luckily, it is quite easy to secure your systems and stop intrusions. Let’s see how

Security is that kind of issue that must never be underestimated. According to the security researchers of the team of Rapid 7 (https://blog.rapid7.com/2012/01/23/video-conferencing-and-self-selecting-targets/ ), there are some vulnerabilities in video conferencing systems that can be exploited by hackers in order to listen to participants’ conversations, read the documents that are shared during a conference, and even steal the passwords that participants would possibly digit to access a program or a file on their desktops.

Why are web conferences so vulnerable? First reason, the lack of firewall in many web connections. Second reason, your equipment is usually configured to automatically answer incoming video calls.

How to solve these two issues? First step, put andenable a firewall between the Internet and the LAN of your organization. Video conferencing solutions like R-HUB`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com) are expressly designed to be used together with your firewalls.  If you utilize properly this kind of video conferencing tools, you should not have any problem either in terms of security or bad receptions of the calls through the net.

Another advantage of TurboMeeting servers is that they are self-installing and self-configuring, and they can be easily integrated with your existing systems. The directions given are quite simple and you should be able to follow them even if you are not an IT expert.

The second step is to properly configure your firewalls and your video conferencing equipment, so that they do not answer automatically any incoming video call. The best solution is to set your system on “mute” (not in auto- answer).

It is necessary that someone press a button to start up the reception of any incoming call that way. Special care must be devoted to the configuration of the port of the firewall that is devoted to video calls, as a mistake here can create a vulnerability that could be immediately exploited by hackers.  You’d better spend some money and call in a specialized technician to have this kind of job done, instead of trying to set the firewall port yourself. “You buy cheap, you buy twice”, they say.

Last, it is also helpful to unplug your system and cover up the cameras when they are not in use. A switched-off machine cannot be utilized by any hacker, even if its software leaks; the same consideration is applicable to covered-up cameras. This is the reason why it is better to place and keep the pcs for video-conferencing in a devoted room, and ask your team to video conference only through some few special pcs and not from their own ones. Naturally, enforcing the last suggestion implies that your team is trained to respect some few security standards and rules.

In conclusion, securing your company’s video conferences is quite easy and affordable, on the condition to use the right technology and to train your team adequately. On the other hand, affairs like Panama papers have taught us all how dangerous data leaks can be. So, learn the lesson!

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How to Successfully Speak in front of a Camera?

December 26th, 2017 by ali No comments »

Four golden rules to speak to your audience in an effective way while sitting in a video conference

The spreading of virtual places (like video conferences) has made our virtual presence even more important than the real one.  Now, voice is not a secondary detail of our virtual presence, as it highly impacts on our audience together with other factors, like our appearance on the screen and our facial movements. Therefore, it is not a bad idea to spend some time to learn some best practices to speak in front of a camera efficiently.

First rule, speak to the camera. The camera you have in front is your audience, because during a conference your guests can look only at the screen, and nowhere else. In other words, video conferencing compels participants to be attentive and focused along the whole event, without many opportunities to get distracted.

If you look directly at the camera, your participants see you as looking at their eyes and become immediately attentive. If you look somewhere else, the result is dramatic: on the screen, everybody sees a guy who turns right or left and does not speak to them but to somebody else off the screen.

Second rule, keep your hands away from your face.Unfortunately, cameras magnify everything, and even the smallest and insignificant movement becomes automatically well visible and noticeable. The effect is that your moving hands distract your audience, as your guests start immediately to follow your gesturesand lose focus on your words or – which is worse – your presentation.

Third rule; don’t miss the importance of body language. Your shoulders, neck, face and half-bust is well shown during a conference, and anyinvoluntary movement gets magnified. However, natural gestures are useful to make your guests feel comfortable and you look human.  Nobody likes talking statues. The only precaution to take is to maintain the seize of your gestures appropriate (not too large) and avoid your arms/hands flailing outwards, because it could scare your audience.

Last rule, adjust your microphone. If your microphone is too high, your voice is distorted and it sounds not human; if it is too-low, your audience cannot hear. You’d better make some trails before your conference. usually, video conferencing platforms allow you to speak to the microphone , hear your voice and adjust the microphone consequently. It is also important to remember to keep your head not too far while speaking.

Are you interested in virtual conferencing? You are going to find more resources and interesting articles on video  conferencing best practices on R-HUB`s blog at http://www.rhubcom.com

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