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Videoconferencing for Efficiency.

Videoconferencing A real time video session between two or more users or between two or more locations. Although the first videoconferencing was done with traditional analog TV and satellites, inhouse room systems became popular in the early 1980s after Compression Labs pioneered digitized video systems  streamlines continuing education continuing education: see adult education.
continuing education
 or adult education

Any form of learning provided for adults. In the U.S. the University of Wisconsin was the first academic institution to offer such programs (1904).
 and specialist referrals.

In the changing world of medicine, physicians are challenged to stay informed. In rural areas, this problem is compounded by distance. For patients in these areas, the problem of locating practitioners, much less specialists, remains an ongoing one. Today, however, videoconferencing technology is being used to solve problems for both physicians and their patients.


The Upper Peninsula of Michigan The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is the northern of the two major land masses that comprise the U.S. state of Michigan. It is commonly referred to simply as the Upper Peninsula, the U.P., or Upper Michigan, and more casually as the land "above the Bridge".  is predominantly a huge forest dotted with lakes and small towns. To get an idea of its size, it takes six hours to travel from one end to the other. Although its population of 314,000 is on a par with Pittsburgh, inhabitants
:This article is about the video game. For Inhabitants of housing, see Residency
Inhabitants is an independently developed commercial puzzle game created by S+F Software. Details
The game is based loosely on the concepts from SameGame.
 are scattered throughout the region at an average of 19 people per square mile. The population density in outlying parts sinks as low as six people per square mile.

The Upper Peninsula's largest city, Marquette (22,000), is home to the Marquette General Health System (MGHS MGHS Marquette General Health System
MGHS Missouri Ghost Hunters Society
MGHS Mac.Robertson Girls' High School (Melbourne, Australia) 
). Marquette General Hospital Marquette General Hospital is a hospital and regional medical center located in Marquette, Michigan and serving the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Marquette General Hospital Website
 serves as the Regional Medical Center for Michigan's Upper Peninsula Upper Peninsula
Abbr. UP
The northern part of Michigan between Lakes Superior and Michigan. It is separated from the Lower Peninsula by the Straits of Mackinac.

Noun 1.
. MGHS consists of the Regional Medical Center (353 acute care beds), rural health clinics and home care agencies employing 2,600 people. MGHS works with other independent healthcare organizations under the name Upper Peninsula Health Care Network (UPHCN UPHCN Upper Peninsula Health Care Network ).

We found ourselves in a difficult situation providing rural physicians with the continuing education that is a mandatory aspect of their jobs. Time, distance and severe weather conditions made it increasingly complicated for our educators to meet the needs of the physicians; in turn, physicians were frustrated by the difficulty they faced in pursuing their continuing education requirements. We needed an educational system that was more accessible, productive and cost effective.


In 1994, through a technology consortium, we pursued videoconferencing as a solution. Working with a limited budget, we wanted a system that could deliver quality videoconferencing over low bandwidth. With a grant of $300,000 from the Rural Utilities Services, we purchased videoconferencing equipment from PictureTel vendor AmeriTech. AmeriTech also supplied us with ISDN ISDN
 in full Integrated Services Digital Network

Digital telecommunications network that operates over standard copper telephone wires or other media.
 lines and had the system up and running by February 1995.

The teachers trained, both on-site and remotely, with Virginia Ostendorf, a renowned expert on distance learning and PictureTel. We attribute much of our success to the quality of that training.

With an additional three-year grant of more than $900,000 from the Office of Rural Health Policy, we purchased more videoconferencing systems for deployment to rural hospitals.


When the system became operational in 1995, we had seven sites. Today, we have 25 operational sites using 38 videoconferencing systems. While some sites still have the original 128kbps bandwidth, others have expanded to 384 kbps and still other to 768 kbps using Internet Protocol See Internet and TCP/IP.

(networking) Internet Protocol - (IP) The network layer for the TCP/IP protocol suite widely used on Ethernet networks, defined in STD 5, RFC 791. IP is a connectionless, best-effort packet switching protocol.
. The higher bandwidth offers a speed and look closer to broadcast television.

The Telehealth Network uses the PictureTel Concorde, the PictureTel 760 and the 4000 ZX among other brands of videoconferencing technology. The network uses auxiliary cameras, document cameras and electronic stethoscopes for telemedicine applications. Further, we have teleradiology equipment at 11 sites and in the homes of Marquette radiologists and neurosurgeons.

We soon discovered other uses for videoconferencing, such as increased programming and services offered. The network currently divides its time between:
Education           31%

Administration      44%

Clinical/medical    16%

Community groups/   09%
outside agencies

Note: Table made from pie chart.

Overall connections have increased 63 percent from 1996 through 2000. That number is a conservative estimate because videoconferencing has become such a natural way of communicating among organizations that users sometimes fail to document and categorize the connection.

Videoconference vid·e·o·con·fer·ence  
A teleconference using video technology, such as closed-circuit television.

 meetings have tremendously increased the speed of coordination between the members of the network, while decreasing the expense of those meetings which would have cost many hours of travel each way. Now we conduct more meetings with video, and the organization makes more progress in achieving its mission in less time.

We use the system to connect patients to subspecialties not available within Michigan's Upper Peninsula. For example, using our telehealth equipment, we consulted Dr. Kevin C. Chung, a nationally recognized pediatric pediatric /pe·di·at·ric/ (pe?de-at´rik) pertaining to the health of children.

Of or relating to pediatrics.
 plastic surgeon plastic surgeon A surgeon specialized in reconstruction or cosmetic enhancement of various body regions, most commonly the face–nose, chin, and cheeks, breasts and buttocks; PSs remove fat deposits through liposuction; PSs reduce scarring or disfigurement  who oversees the University of Michigan (body, education) University of Michigan - A large cosmopolitan university in the Midwest USA. Over 50000 students are enrolled at the University of Michigan's three campuses. The students come from 50 states and over 100 foreign countries.  Hand Center, saving two patients a 16-hour round-trip to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, city (1990 pop. 109,592), seat of Washtenaw co., S Mich., on the Huron River; inc. 1851. It is a research and educational center, with a large number of government and industrial research and development firms, many in high-technology fields such as .

Perhaps most importantly Adv. 1. most importantly - above and beyond all other consideration; "above all, you must be independent"
above all, most especially
, this technology has had a positive impact on patient services. When a rural patient needs to consult a specialist, we can now set up a videoconference consultation through our specialty clinic. Doctors feel the ability to actually see a patient is far more valuable than anything they can do over the phone, and now that can be accomplished.

The videoconferencing network has enabled the Upper Peninsula Health Care Network hospitals to continue to raise the bar in terms of quality and efficiency of healthcare in the rural geography. Communities of 2,000 people are using videoconferencing at their hospitals to address healthcare and business needs. Videoconferencing inspires confidence among patients because they have easy access to specialists in distant areas. Consequently, this means their local hospital is up-to-date and can provide top-quality care based on best-available medical information.

MGHS recently received a federal grant from the Office for Advancement of Telehealth to help us reach our expansion goals for the future. For now, videoconferencing has already helped the Upper Peninsula to improve its healthcare, providing practitioners the ability to meet more frequently and involve more people without the time and risk of travel.

Sally Davis
Program Director
Telehealth and Management
Marquette General Health System
Marquette, MI


PictureTel Corporation
Andover, MA

For more information from PictureTel Corp.

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Title Annotation:Technology Information
Publication:Health Management Technology
Date:May 1, 2001
Previous Article:Smooth Sailing with Scheduling.

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