Third generation MDT meeting rooms

In 2000, Video South demonstrated how MDT meetings for cancer care could be more easily achieved using videoconferencing. Shared viewing of the radiology, pathology and patient record has been shown to save time and be safer – and led to the first direct admission to a tertiary unit without a prior outpatient assessment.

Royal Free Hospital level 8 MDT.

Royal Free Hospital MDT in Oncology.

Barnet Hospital MDT control bench.

Since then, the mandatory MDT meetings in cancer care have benefitted from videoconference links between collaborating centres in many areas, which involve co-operating units that treat patients in common but are remote from each other.

This article highlights the key technical features of third generation systems.

Two independent channels of full 1080p HD video is a must, capable of 30 or 60 frames per second motion. Even if the radiology or pathology are effectively still frames, users have a tendency to track around and zoom in and out of images. This can look fine locally, but at a remote conference site, the result can be completely blurred unless the system supports full motion.

Video South has generally specified Cisco for these systems because they provide codecs that meet these criteria. Whilst many other brands profess full HD, this is only effective when it applies to both the camera and the graphics channel.

Manufacturers have always worked on the basis that the camera view of participants is the number one channel and must always be present whilst the second channel (for graphics) is used only occasionally and therefore can be specified at a lower quality. In any MDT meeting, once participants are clear who is present, they often prefer to show only imaging, and as much simultaneously as possible.

Video South installations can use both channels for imaging and, because the channels are now 16:9 widescreen, we can also show two standard images on one channel and one or two on the second. As this is achieved by image compilation and then input as a compiled dual image to the codec, the videoconferencing is still configured to global standards and can show these multiple images to any HD codec of any manufacture, globally.

Fluency of discussion is key to the pace of any meeting. Video South now configures the system with multiple, highly directional microphones mounted to the wall or ceiling, allowing maximum participation at minimum preparation and effort. In larger rooms, there may also be specialist microphones close to the PACS, histology and moderator locations to pick up those voices very directly.

Good touch panel control means that connections between sites can be by simply touching the name of the site. The touch panel also automates many defaults and settings. Cameras can automatically set to the best view of participants, microphone levels are checked, when imaging is selected, displays are checked for power and input settings.

Finally, we have found that custom furniture to suit the room size and the way that users wish to be seated is a great advantage. The power, data and AV wiring in the furniture means that workstations, microphones, control and cameras are always in the correct arrangement and ready for use, with little opportunity for the system to be disturbed by operator error, missing cables or disconnections. The objective is to provide sophisticated and reliable systems that can be operated easily by users.