Polycom Looks to Bring Video to Hospitals With RealPresence Cart

Polycom has unveiled the RealPresence Practitioner Cart 8000, an ergonomic telemedicine cart that enables remote consultations with patients.

Polycom has launched the RealPresence Practitioner Cart 8000, a telemedicine cart that enables caregivers to hold video conferences with patients located in remote areas.

The company announced and showcased the new cart at the American Telemedicine Association Fall Forum 2012 in New Orleans on Sept. 10.

The cart offers high-definition video conferencing. It incorporates Polycom's HDX 8000 telepresence unit, a 720-pixel EagleEye camera and StereoSurround technology.

Polycom's Practitioner Cart 8000 combines the company's telepresence technology along with a small, lightweight mobile cart from Rubbermaid Healthcare.

Rubbermaid is known for its home consumer products, but the Rubbermaid Healthcare division provides clinical workstations for medical facilities.

"When developing this cart with Polycom, we saw an opportunity to create a highly ergonomic, mobile and versatile platform that uniquely meets the needs of today's very demanding telehealth environment," Kevin Boyle, business leader for Rubbermaid Healthcare, said in a statement.

The frame enables clinicians to avoid spills and clean the cart easily, according to Polycom.

Remote care, also referred to as telehealth, is a growing trend in health care that could reduce hospital readmissions. The telehealth market is expected to grow to $1 billion by 2016, according to a 2011 report by InMedica, a unit of IMS Research.

Several vendors such as AT&T, Cisco and Consult A Doctor demonstrated telehealth technology at the ATA 2012 conference in San Jose, Calif., earlier this year.

The Polycom cart conforms to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Class I Medical Device Data Systems (MDDS) requirements, according to Polycom. Class I requires that IT companies register health care hardware and software that transfer, store, convert or display medical information. The MDDS rule went into effect on April 18, 2011.

"Health care reform and cost-cutting initiatives are accelerating the adoption of telemedicine as providers seek to deliver quality care to underserved populations, but without the expense of transporting patients to large medical centers or sending specialists into the field," Ron Emerson, global director of health care for Polycom, said in a statement.

The cart runs on a 55-amp sealed lead acid battery, which provides up to 2.5 hours of continuous, uninterrupted call time. A powered electronic lift enables users to maintain eye-level contact.

In addition, the cart's platform can accommodate a laptop or PC. Connectivity options include HDMI, DVI, VGA, S-Video and composite video.

The cart can connect digital in-band stethoscopes and video scopes through USB. By connecting peripheral heart monitors to the unit, cardiologists can monitor the condition of heart patients.

Doctors can use the cart to broadcast medical procedures for education, or telemonitoring nurses and staff. It also enables dermatologists to examine skin lesions remotely.

Polycom sees the Practitioner Cart 8000 being used in community health centers, remote clinics, physician offices, emergency rooms, intensive care units, public health departments, prisons and jails.

The nonverbal clues that can be observed in a telemedicine session are useful for psychiatry and mental health sessions, as well as stroke and neurology consultations, according to Polycom.

As far as security, the cart incorporates Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption to protect patient information and comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.

The cart will be available in October for $26,999.