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J Telemed Telecare. 2004;10 Suppl 1:10-3.

Paediatric palliative home care with Internet-based video-phones: lessons learnt.

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Centre for Online Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


We have designed and tested an Internet-based video-phone suitable for use in the homes of families in need of paediatric palliative care services. The equipment uses an ordinary telephone line and includes a PC, Web camera and modem housed in a custom-made box. In initial field testing, six clinical consultations were conducted in a one-month trial of the videophone with a family in receipt of palliative care services who were living in the outer suburbs of Brisbane. Problems with variability in call quality--namely audio and video freezing, and audio break-up--prompted further laboratory testing. We completed a programme of over 250 test calls. Fixing modem connection parameters to use the V.34 modulation protocol at a set bandwidth of 24 kbit/s improved connection stability and the reliability of the video-phone. In subsequent field testing 47 of 50 calls (94%) connected without problems. The freezes that did occur were brief (with greatly reduced packet loss) and had little effect on the ability to communicate, unlike the problems arising in the home testing. The low-bandwidth Internet-based video-phone we have developed provides a feasible means of doing telemedicine in the home.

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