Video Conferencing

Video conferencing uses two-way interactive audio-video technology to connect users when a live, face-to-face interaction is necessary.

Video devices can include videoconferencing units, peripheral cameras, videoscopes, or web cameras. Display devices include computer monitors, plasma/LED TV, LCD projectors, and even tablet computers. Video conferencing can provide cost-effective access to care for patients who are institutionalized or incarcerated;

Video conferencing has historically been the most common application of telemedicine/telehealth care, and is an effective health care and consultation tool for a variety of applications, including:

Emergency Room/Intensive Care Unit Support

  • Video conferencing connects emergency providers with medical specialists who otherwise would not be available for consults;
  • Remote ICU monitoring programs at hospitals provide 24-hour backup, supervision, and support to ICU medical staffs by utilizing a combination of real-time video to observe  patients, interactive video communications with on-site ICU providers, and digital patient monitoring equipment.

See CCHP's research catalogue on telestroke research to learn more about telestroke research and programs throughout the country.

Consults

  • Primary care providers can consult with medical specialists who are not available locally;
  • Providers can discuss patient cases, regardless of location, and without the need for travel;
  • Medical specialists can examine patients in remote locations when distance is a barrier, as is the case when patients live in rural and underserved urban areas.  This includes situations where the physician needs to directly observe the patient;
  • Psychiatric consults can effectively be provided through live video for individuals who do not have local access, or who may otherwise be reluctant to keep appointments in person at a psychiatric provider's office;
  • Patients with limited mobility can receive medical consultations at home, or in their local primary care provider's office;
  • Language translators can provide video interpretation services to multiple locations, a cost-effective expansion of these programs.

Health Education

  • Video conferencing allows health care professionals to conduct continuing education programs with attendees in multiple locations;
  • Patients can use these technologies to take disease management courses or receive other important health information.

Video Conferencing Successes

Recent studies have shown that video conferencing directly improves access to health care, and can improve the quality of care that could lead to improved health outcomes.  These technologies also have the potential to make the health care system more cost effective. For example:

  • The objective of this 2016 study titled, “Telehealth and Autism: Treating Challenging Behavior at a Lower Cost“, was to determine if an autism treatment delivered via live videoconferencing could be implemented effectively and at a lower cost compared to in-person interventions. To test this, they compared outcome and cost data for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) procedures using in-home therapy, clinic-based telehealth, and home-based telehealth. Their results found all three service delivery models to be successful in reducing problem behavior. Related to cost, they found home telehealth to be least costly, but both forms of telehealth were significantly less expensive than in-home therapy.
  • “Patients’ Satisfaction with and Preference for Telehealth Visits”, a 2015 study, investigated patient satisfaction with a live-video telehealth program offered at a CVS MinuteClinic. Researchers surveyed 1,734 patients to assess their satisfaction with seeing diagnostic images, hearing and seeing the remote practitioner, the assisting nurse, quality of care, convenience, and understanding. They were also asked to rank telehealth visits as they compared to traditional visits. The survey results found high satisfaction and acceptability for telehealth, and some patients preferred telehealth services over a traditional in-person visit.

For more information on research related to video conferencing, see CCHP's research catalogue on telemental health studies.