Cisco Systems has introduced the TelePresence VX-Clinical Assistant, a mobile telemedicine cart for high-definition video collaboration between doctors and patients.
Physicians will use the VX Clinical Assistant to examine patients remotely from other facilities. It will also play a role in medical education, Cisco reports.
"We believe telepresence can be extremely valuable for use-case applications, and one of the key ones is in the health care arena," David Hsieh, Cisco's vice president of marketing for emerging technologies, told eWEEK.
Even with a doctor physically at a patient's bedside, telepresence will allow a doctor to bring in outside experts for a second opinion while they're still in the exam room. This capability is important for patients with rare conditions, according to Hsieh.
"It's all about bringing experts to the patients in a new and innovative way," Hsieh said. "For people who have rare diseases or medical conditions, they get passed from specialist to specialist-that process is time-consuming and expensive."
A slim design allows the unit to navigate tight exam rooms, Oracle reports. "It's a cart on wheels designed to be used in a clinical environment," Hsieh said.
The VX Clinical Assistant is part of a series of new TelePresence products Cisco announced on Oct. 26 to expand the line to enterprises of multiple sizes. The other products announced include Jabber Video for TelePresence, which allows users to make video calls on desktops, laptops and tablets and the cloud-based TelePresence Callway, in which businesses buy or lease multipurpose or personal endpoints.
Battery operated and on wheels, the VX Clinical Assistant is classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a Class 1 device, which means it's a low-risk medical device.
Powered by Cisco's C20 Series codec platform, the unit features a 24-inch 1080p HD LED backlit display with full duplex stereo audio. The codec platform is the processor that encodes and decodes video streams.
"The codec plugs into the screen of the camera and does the coding and encoding of video," Hsieh explained. "So it does the video compression and then plugs into the network for transmitting the encoded compressed video over the network."
Doctors can operate the unit using a tactile panel for remote control, Hsieh noted.
The unit offers bidirectional telepresence, which means it's capable of performing two-way communication over the videconferencing connection.
Doctors or nurses can also attach cameras to the VX Clinical Assistant to take high-definition video scans of a portion of a patient's body that's under examination, such as an injured knee, Hsieh said.
If a doctor is in a remote location, a nurse can zoom the camera in on a lesion or body part, Hsieh explained.
"You can position the camera so it's convenient for the patient, and the doctor can decide on what they think the next course of action will be," Hsieh said. "It's a great way to extend a consultation in an on-demand fashion."
The VX Clinical Assistant will be available in the first quarter of 2012.
Other companies active in the telemedicine space include American Well, which offers HD telepresence on its Online Care service through Vidyo, a company that offers cloud-based videoconferencing.