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September 11, 2013

WebRTC and Telemedicine: A Perfect Match

There’s a lot of talk being thrown around about the potential of WebRTC and, indeed, even though the technology is still practically in its infancy, there have been some interesting uses for it. But ‘interesting’ doesn’t always translate to ‘useful.’

That said, it’s hard to deny the usefulness of WebRTC, which offers some noteworthy benefits even when used for its most basic purpose: browser-based video chatting. For this, WebRTC is most significant for its low implementation costs and high returns, as compared to even basic client-based offerings like Skype. Indeed, since it is completely browser-based, WebRTC has practically no deployment burden for both providers and users.

Obviously, this is useful for any business looking to save money, but it probably has the greatest significance in the healthcare industry. This is especially true when you factor in the fact that the U.S. healthcare industry has been looking into telehealth, evaluating vendors and applications that can help expand telemedicine. After all, telecommunications technology has drastically changed the way medical professionals communicate with patients in rural areas, as well as how they communicate with each other.

While this undoubtedly results in cost savings for hospitals, it can also help to save lives. After all, if physicians can share data more quickly, they can spend more time helping their patients. Then there are services like Healthdirect Australia, a healthcare program that allows Australians to call in for free medical advice. This program puts patients in contact with nurses, who can determine the nature of patients’ ailments, freeing up emergency rooms and doctors’ offices across the country.

WebRTC can help maximize the benefits of telehealth by eliminating the need to purchase costly, specialized equipment. Instead, hospitals need only invest in tablets, laptops or smartphones. Browser-based calling also makes staying in touch with patients easier on a technical level. For example, doctors would be able to simply click on a patient’s number in a directory to initiate text, voice or video chat immediately.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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