Here’s Looking at Human

April 3, 2013 by InTouch Health

Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) cameras have been around for quite a while, mainly in the security field. They’re used every day in Las Vegas casinos to zoom in on blackjack players to make sure they’re not cheating. But now they’re being used widely in telemedicine – not to eavesdrop but to connect patient and doctor with greater intimacy.

By controlling a PTZ camera, a physician can assume the same distance from a patient that feels right in-person. If the doctor needs an extreme close-up of a stroke patient’s pupils, no problem. The camera can then adjust for a full-body view. If the patient is tearful, the doctor can empathetically edge a bit closer.  And the tilt feature comes in handy when physicians need a sideways view, even for routine things like throat or ear checks. Best of all, PTZ technology eliminates the fixed gaze of a TV anchorman, making the patient/physician encounter much more office-like.

The RP-7i utilizes a dual-camera system to obtain both the greatest field of view for driving and the maximum zoom capability during telecommunication interactions.

Many telemedicine companies offer PTZ camera technology, but the sophistication varies widely. Some high-end PTZ cameras offer features you’d probably never need in a hospital, such as the ability to block out images from the apartment complex visible from the patient’s window. To find the best match for your application, you need to see them in action. That’s why it’s virtually impossible to compare telemedicine products using a checklist. And that’s true for all the features canvassed, not just camera finesse.

On paper, many telemedicine products seem to offer comparable functionality. But a patient may clearly feel more comfortable using System A rather than System B.  When it comes to something as subjective as the patient/doctor relationship, there’s only one way to truly assess the trust-building qualities of a telemedicine product: experience it.