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Secure Internet video conferencing for assessing acute medical problems in a nursing facility.
Although video-based teleconferencing is becoming more widespread in the medical profession, especially for scheduled consultations, applications for rapid assessment of acute medical problems are rare. Use of such a video system in a nursing facility may be especially beneficial, because physicians are often not immediately available to evaluate patients. We have assembled and tested a portable, wireless conferencing system to prepare for a randomized trial of the system s influence on resource utilization and satisfaction. The system includes a rolling cart with video conferencing hardware and software, a remotely controllable digital camera, light, wireless network, and battery. A semi-automated paging system informs physicians of patient s study status and indications for conferencing. Data transmission occurs wirelessly in the nursing home and then through Internet cables to the physician s home. This provides sufficient bandwidth to support quality motion images. IPsec secures communications. Despite human and technical challenges, this system is affordable and functional.