September 6, 2011 By Sarah Rich
The Georgia Department of Public Health wants to begin testing video conferencing technology on mobile devices within the next few weeks. The cloud-based desktop-to-mobile video service would allow staff to video conference from Windows desktop computers to Apple mobile devices such as the iPad and iPod.
The department, aside from its main office, spans to 18 districts throughout the state with some districts containing multiple county health departments. Due to several of the districts’ rural sprawl outside the Atlanta metropolitan area, video conferencing has been used consistently for the last six years for meetings and training, and more recently has been used for telemedicine, said Donna Dunn, the department’s state training and distance learning coordinator. Extending the technology to mobile devices will help with these aspects of video conferencing.
“Most people walk around with cell phones, or they have the iPad or something like that,” Dunn said. “So our goal is to be able to make the connection a lot easier and so that people can dial into the system and decide, ‘I’m going to face talk from your computer to my iPad.’”
The video conferencing service Georgia’s public health department plans to test is PerfectMeetings Video [http://www.appliedglobal.com/perfectmeetingsmobile.aspx] by Rockledge, Fla. vendor Applied Global Technologies. Through the new service, organizations can use the technology to create 4- to 9-way meetings. Because the service is a cloud-based system, the meeting rooms include presentation storage, recording and streaming of meetings and live desktop sharing, according to Applied Global Technologies.
For 2-way video conferencing, the service is free and also available via a PerfectMeetings Mobile app.
Video conferencing technology alone for Georgia’s public health department cost thousands of dollars, but the department has realized cost savings by cutting down on expenses that would have been incurred from employees needing to travel to attend meetings. Dunn said the state saves between $2,000 and $5,000 per meeting when meetings are hosted via video conference.
Video Conference Security
But does allowing video conferencing access on mobile devices present security concerns? Dunn said the department does have security concerns, but the state has mandated that state business must be done on state-issued devices.
She said it would not be likely for staff to access the video conferencing technology from personal mobile devices partly due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, but she hopes through the testing, the department will be able to make recommendations and show that the technology does work and has demonstrable benefits.
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