By Laurence Yudkovitch, Product Manager – Synapse VNA, TeraMedica Division of Fujifilm
It has been hard to watch TV recently without seeing an ad from a leading technology company describing how a top health institution used its video conferencing software for patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. A featured doctor mentions being able to share a screen with a patient to show X-ray images, and then the camera cuts to the patient looking at a computer screen nodding their head and smiling. There is no doubt that the frequency and value of telehealth visits has increased substantially during the pandemic, but the TeraMedica Division of Fujifilm has been exalting the benefits of virtual collaboration through Synapse® Mobility for years. Given the renewed interest, I thought it would be valuable to describe some of the differences between standard video conferencing and Mobility’s collaboration feature.
Synapse Mobility is an enterprise viewer that any authorized clinician can access directly or from a link in the EHR to view patient images. Mobility displays standard radiology and cardiology images, along with most specialty department images such as dermatology, physical therapy, GI endoscopes, dental images, etc. One of Mobility’s more innovative features allows a clinician to set up a real-time collaboration session with other specialists, physicians, or family members. Examples include:
- An internist conferring with a radiologist, oncologist, and/or neurologist about a patient’s recent exam
- That same internist adding the patient into the discussion or collaborating directly with the patient
- A physical therapist conferring with the school board to demonstrate that a child is able to return to their regular Phys Ed class
- A gastroenterologist reviewing colonoscopy images with a radiologist to identify the source of abnormal anatomy from a recent abdomen CT
An example I frequently share from personal experience comes from my daughter, who has ongoing problems with her knee. A few years ago, my wife took her to the orthopedic surgeon to review her MRI, but I was working, so they conferenced me in by phone, and I wasn’t able to see the MRI. If they were using Synapse Mobility, they could have sent me a link in real time, and I could have been more engaged in my daughter’s care plan by not only hearing the discussion, but also participating in the review of the MRI.
A few weeks ago, we had a follow-up visit with the same orthopedic surgeon, who ordered another MRI for my daughter and said we could have the follow-up by video visit. He mentioned doing it on his iPad so that he could aim the camera at the screen so we could see the images. (When I asked, he said he could also do it from his computer, but found the iPad more convenient).
While standard video conferencing software is now ubiquitous in healthcare, Synapse Mobility offers a few key differentiators for reviewing images:
- 1. Automatic anonymization: As soon as the clinician initiates collaboration mode, Synapse Mobility removes all PHI from the screen. If a remote user takes a screenshot, they have no way to identify the patient. And because Synapse Mobility runs on the server, there’s no concern about information being left on the remote system.
- 2. True collaboration: The host can grant each guest the ability to point to the images and/or use the tools. Each guest has a different-color pointer, so it’s clear what each person is pointing to, and they can each scroll through the images while sharing the same view. Measurement and annotation tools are also available to anyone, and markups can be saved as a secondary capture so there’s a record of what was found. Only the host has access to the archive, which is needed to bring other images into the collaboration space and prevents access to images by the guests.
- 3. Diagnostic-quality images from any device: Synapse Mobility is the leading mobile-viewing platform for unrestricted access to diagnostic-quality content. It’s globally accredited to support diagnosis via desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile devices, as well as specifically on Windows, Mac, iOS/iPadOS, and Android devices.
- 4. Full audiovisual collaboration: Synapse Mobility uses the device’s webcam and superimposes the video on top of the images, so users can see each other while viewing the images. Additionally, users can grant access to the device microphones to enable real-time verbal communication during the session.
- 5. Inherent tool: Synapse Mobility’s collaboration features can be accessed from all platforms, including the HTML 5 browser or through the tools within the iOS app.
Collaborating can cover so many clinical use cases. Many of our customers have had a variety of experiences and are always finding different ways to leverage the tool. Scenarios can include things such as tumor boards and teaching opportunities where multiple guests can collaborate at the same time, family members who are remote or may not be in the same location due to pandemic-inspired isolation, or in the pediatric setting where only one parent can be present during the consultation. All communication is encrypted, and since the source files never leave the server, security risks are mitigated. We’re glad to see telehealth enable continuity of care during the pandemic and look forward to helping providers deliver the best possible care to patients with the Synapse family of products.