Vidyo Promising Cheaper Telemedicine With VidyoHealth

Looking to apply its products more specifically to vertical markets, the fast-growing personal telepresence upstart Vidyo on Wednesday launched VidyoHealth, a version of its videoconferencing suite intended for the rapidly expanding health care and telemedicine space.

The rise of Vidyo in the channel has been significant since the startup company emerged from stealth mode in 2007. Vidyo's Web-based videoconferencing suite is IP-based and aims to provide low-latency, HD-quality video conferencing and presence that doesn't have the wallet-busting price tag of competitive video conferencing systems.

"A Polycom or a Tandberg would have been the solution of choice up until now," said Marty Hollander, senior vice president of marketing at Vidyo. "The promise for the value of telemedicine is that you can leave the restricted network and go out onto the Internet to do what you need to do. We can provide that."

VidyoHealth, Hollander argued, eliminates the need for dedicated telemedicine infrastructure for health care providers -- crucial, he explained, for physicians and other caregivers that want to integrate video conferencing into their daily workflows as conveniently as possible.

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"Say you have a practitioner based in a rural area five hours from the nearest medical center," he said. "They'd like to have a consult from a specialist, and to send that person to the center would be a day trip. Maybe it's just something on the skin that they'd like to examine. Well, if the physician has a camera, they can all take care of that issue within minutes as opposed to having to arrange for travel and all of that."

The design of VidyoHealth is based in convenience, ease-of-use -- it has optional one-touch activation for home-based patients, for example, that don't have much computer experience -- and security.

The VidyoHealth suite includes AES-128 Media Encryption and HTTPS Signaling Encryption, as well as embedded auto firewall detection and traversal software. It also has restricted access features to maintain privacy between the doctors' office and, for example, patients who arrive early on the video stream for appointments -- a "knock on the door" safeguard, Hollander explained.

"HIPAA compliance requires the confidentiality of the doctor-patient relationship," Hollander said. "Which isn't to say the doctor doesn't use the phone, but for video conferencing, we wanted to ensure they had really high quality encryption on the media."

Next: Cost and Vertical Focus

The VidyoHealth suite includes VidyoDesktop software clients for Mac, Windows or Linux systems, VidyoClickk optional touch screen, single-button operated endpoints, the Intel x86-based VidyoPortal appliance for Web-based video conferencing management, the Intel x86-based VideoRouter appliance for multi-port call processing and routing, VidyoRoom systems with optional HIPAA-compliant mobile medical carts (manufactured by a third party), and VidyoGateway, which can enable connectivity between VidyoConferencing and other H.323 or SIP-based endpoints. The system can further integrate with a range of different medical IT devices, including medical cameras and videoscopes.

VidyoHealth is available starting this week to Vidyo partners, with packages starting at $17,000 for 25-user deployments. Vidyo expects the suite to compete with Cisco HealthPresence and other video conferencing packages from Polycom and Cisco-owned Tandberg.

"We are less than 10 percent the cost of competitive offerings," Hollander said. "Cisco is quality if you're willing to pay for it. But we've gone in the opposite direction from a cost point of view, and we want to make this available much more broadly. You don't need special purpose networks for this. We think this is a complete, game-changing solution and finally delivers for the telemedicine workers exactly what they want."

Apham Nnaji, vice president of Phenomenal Networks, a Minnetonka, Minn. solution provider, said there is "nothing comparable to Vidyo's VidyoHealth solution."

"Practitioners can connect with patients no matter where they are, since there's no need for any special networks to support the application," Nnaji said in a statement e-mailed to CRN.

Hollander said there'll be more from Vidyo in the way of vertical-specific versions of its core video conferencing offering, and Vidyo has also formed an internal group devoted to specific Vidyo deployments in health care, government and other key markets.

"There are plenty of features for each that role into the generic product," he said. "But each does require a certain set of considerations."