What can we make out of a world where every mobile phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop is a platform for an instant video call? The possible connections are as boundless as the internet itself and bring the potential to literally place every person with a smartphone in face-to-face conversation with each other.
You could fantasize about a utopian social network where we all chat daily with others in foreign countries, growing closer through understanding and compassion. Or you could build something a little more concrete and practical–like an instant access healthcare system.
WebRTC, or browser-based video communication, can create those seamless links, and a Pennsylvania company has put it to use to create just such a system. The resulting WebRTC healthcare network turns every communication device at the disposal of nurses, doctors, and patients into instant video connections that could transform our healthcare system.
The Basics of WebRTC Video Conferencing
WebRTC, which stands for Web Real-Time Communication, is one of the VC Daily team’s favorite topics of discussion and sources of prediction. It’s an agreement between some of the world’s most popular internet browsers to adopt and share standardized programming and communication protocols that can be used by everyone. The video below gets into a little more detail:
What all this means for users is that it can turn a browser like Chrome or Firefox into a video conferencing host. There’s no need for downloads, additional apps, or subscription services; the video technology is built into the existing browser, ready to use–in fact, we built our own video portal for free in less than 15 minutes, just to prove it can be done.
The reason we find WebRTC so exciting, and why others have declared it the most important new communications technology of the decade, is its potentially unlimited flexibility and accessibility. Housed in something as ubiquitous as a Google search engine, it turns all those devices we mentioned earlier into video callers.
Everywhere you access the internet, you can now access a video call. Even if you’re laid up in a hospital bed.
What’s So Great About WebRTC Healthcare?
That innovative WebRTC company I mentioned earlier is called Compunetix, and what it has created is a dynamic video call center. Using browser-based video calling, its clients can build a video portal directly into their internal and external web pages. In the immediate deployment, it is a kind of virtual triage unit where patients can be assessed visually over their own phones, either by first-responders, general practitioners, and emergency room staff, or by remote experts assisting medical staff on location. The system can operate solely via the cloud, so there’s no need for complex installation or on-site storage and maintenance by an IT team (although an on-premise option is also available).
It’s an HD connection that can be expanded out to include additional callers, and its implementation can be expanded within a hospital or healthcare setting. For instance, the video portal could be made available to link different departments within a hospital by video, or to bring together different healthcare providers, such rehabilitation centers, specialist units, or allied health providers.
What makes WebRTC especially interesting to us at VC Daily is that it can be deployed in smart devices we don’t traditionally use for communication–and that opens all kinds of possibilities.
Smart, Integrated Video Conferencing
It has been estimated that by 2019, more than 6 billion devices across the world will be embedded with WebRTC technology–and more than half the world’s internet users will access a WebRTC app in some way.
The key term is devices. Anything that can be connected to the internet can potentially transmit data all over the world. Any such “smart” device that can be fitted with a camera and a screen can in turn host a video conference. In a healthcare setting, that could include everything from the heart monitors in an intensive care room to the clock radio that sits by a patient’s bedside.
Video conferencing vendors such as Vidyo have used WebRTC to improve existing communication systems within hospitals by creating central video hubs to watch over multiple venues. Installing video within the medical devices already in place, however, makes things far more flexible and does away with additional video setup.
A nurse doing their daily rounds, for instance, could instantly present a live image of a patient to their doctor through a built-in camera, or just use their own smartphone. Similarly, a doctor could instantly consult a specialist or quickly notify relatives of any changes in a patient’s condition.
WebRTC is an anywhere, anytime video link. Within the complexities of a major hospital or the isolation of a rural practice, it could bring new levels of detail and intimacy to some of life’s most important moments.