An associateasked me to review the latest and greatest in the field of collaboration services. He pointed me to a video collaboration showcase given during the Cisco 2013 Partner Summit. It was intended to highlight the vendor’s ability to easily combine voice and video with real time document sharing. It should have been obvious that this was a practical collaboration application for healthcare providers and consumers. It wasn’t’.
What I saw was an unwieldy group of tools. Users had to be savvy and capable of finding, understanding, and using product features and functions. Reservation-less scheduling required specific knowledge of the participant locations if high resolution video conference centers were involved. Reservation details were cryptic and contained “URL –speak” having no meaning for the average user. Reservation creation as well as file, screen, and data sharing required a lot of points and clicks – too many for the neophyte. While the demo went smoothly, it was clear that the “smart scheduler” wasn’t so smart, telepresence and webinar capabilities were bolted, and a lot of training as well as experience was necessary for smooth operation.
My conclusion – bolting together different webinar, scheduling, video, voice, and file sharing products does not mean you have created a practical collaboration application for healthcare providers or anyone else. In the world of healthcare, real time multi-media collaboration solutions must be practical. The keyword here is “practical”. It and means the solution must be:
- highly useable with intuitive interfaces eliminating the need for education and training
- automatically capable of handling various video and audio devices and communication speeds
- scalable to support an indeterminate number of users
- integrated within a single communication service delivering a consistent user experience and service
Fortunately solutions are available that do offer practical collaboration applications for healthcare providers and consumers. We have made several videos available to illustrate not only how these solutions can be used in healthcare but in general. In the case of the Avaya / Radvision solution, file sharing, video services, and collaboration tools (e.g., mark-up tools) are part of an integrated display that operates on virtually on desktop, room, and mobile platforms. Intuitive controls make it simple for users to understand and interact with others in natural, free flowing dialogue via white boards, screen sharing, and snapshot tools. No knowledge of the participant’s equipment or location is required and multi-user conferences can be established without any need for a reservation.
One of the great things about Arrow SI is the fact that we have the opportunity to experience and evaluate solutions from a wide range of suppliers. Microsoft, Avaya, and Polycom are but of few of the sources we consider. We are always happy to share what we know. Don’t hesitate to ask.