Yesterday Polycom announced a new set of mobile capabilities and an increased ability to partner across software and hardware. These changes have enabled Orlando Health neurologists to diagnosis strokes faster. Neurologists may not be on-site 24/7, and may not be staffed at all in smaller settings. RealPresence mobile video allows for the diagnostic process to take place with less demands on the doctor's location.

While they demoed this ability in a hospital setting (in the image here a neurologist is controlling the camera in the patient's room from his office - the doctor can pan, zoom, and tilt using his iPad), imagine doctors using our own phones as remote cameras in emergency situations. Ubiquitous access to expertise.

Picture of neurologist and patient

Polycom brings this future closer in two ways:

  • Their technology roadmap: mobile-friendliness (with support of up to 10K devices) and open APIs so more developers can be working on options to reduce the technical barriers.
  • Perhaps more importantly, Polycom's current technologies and clients are changing the way we work and interact now. These early stages of using remote tools for diagnoses will spur new ideas for innovation outside the formal boundaries of hospitals and doctors' offices.

Last week I was invited to Polycom's press presentation of these announcements. Their new facility includes experience rooms to show the use of innovative video across industries. Besides teleconferenced meetings, we saw medical uses, manufacturing (using magnifying tools to show the details of an electronics component), and discussed the uses on oil rigs (I have an interview with one of the oil rig execs later this week).

As I write this, I recall one of my first studies on what was then called "computer monitoring." Video and microscopic images were being used at a Hughes Aircraft chip production site. The issue there was the convenience of supervisors being able to see the work without having to enter the cleanroom. They also found value in being able to use the stored images for training and process troubleshooting.

Then, as now, the question wasn't whether the technology could perform. Instead, the question is how do we figure out how to adapt the technology and work process in a human setting. Will patients trust doctor diagnoses made from afar? If an expert is brought in to troubleshoot a manufacturing process via video will the expertise be perceived in the same way? What kind of background and context does a oil rig guru need to be able to understand the conditions at the rig site?

What has been your experience with working via video? As we go beyond sit down meetings, what do we need to keep in mind?

Photo courtesy of Polycom