Notice: Sunday 22 March. We are rapidly developing guidance and materials for providers to assist in their quick transition to telehealth. This page may be empty or incomplete. Our team is hard at work and will be making regular updates.
The age and specification of the computers you use for your telehealth programme will have an impact on the quality of the session. Your computer's ability to encode and decode the video and audio will affect the quality of the video call. For example, a lot of intensive processing is required for high-definition pictures. Many older computers will be unable to keep up with the power required to optimally process the video. The video resolution (detail, measured in pixels), and frame rate (smoothness) then becomes reduced. The processor type, speed and RAM are important as well as the camera, microphone and speakers.
WiFi connection is convenient but will reduce both the throughput and the consistency of your connection. There will be a decrease in performance the further you move from the WiFi access point. For the best results, a wired network connection should be used where possible. See Networking for further information.
Other applications running
The quality of video and audio can also be affected if the computer is being used for a number of other applications such as email, documents and graphics. For the best results, the computer needs to be able to put all its resource to encoding and decoding video and audio. Shutting down all other unnecessary applications and windows will give you the best quality video and audio, especially when using an older computer.
Video conferencing units
Video conferencing units are designed specifically for video conferencing, and will generally deliver the best quality video and audio. They do however require significant capital investment and also ongoing licencing and subscription costs. Video conferencing units are ideally suited to large venues, or to specialist applications such as clinical carts, or emergency resuscitation rooms. See Video Conferencing Hardware for further information.
Software-based telehealth solutions can run on a range of phones, tablets and computers. Depending on the solution and the device either an app or program will be installed, Some solutions can be run through an internet browser only meaning no software needs to be installed.
While some computer-based setups will already be sufficient for a high-quality telehealth programme, other older setups may only be satisfactory for non-clinical uses. See Video Conferencing Software for further information.
Although most computers are capable of making a video call, some simple enhancements will make dramatic improvements.
Web cameras: We recommend HD quality webcams for telehealth as they offer very high resolution, white balance, exposure and quality than many lower quality cameras. Some modern computers and screens will have these built-in which has the benefit that the webcam cannot be lost or stolen. The web cameras built into some older laptops and screens are often low quality and not ideal for telehealth. These cameras may struggle in average light conditions and are likely to produce a flat, lifeless video image.
A specialist USB Webcam will generally produce the very best picture as the lens used in these cameras are usually larger than inbuilt cameras. An NZ$150 HD webcam, such as the Logitech C920, will produce a sharp and accurate widescreen high-resolution video.
Microphones: Poor audio makes a telehealth session almost unusable so always try to be in a quiet environment away from other noise. The built-in microphones on many computers and webcams are designed for one person sitting about 1m away from the device. If people are further away then the microphone may not pick up clear audio signals. In these situations, a Portable USB microphone should be used.
Headsets: A headset will generally produce the best quality audio. The distance between the microphone and the user’s mouth is always the same even if they turn their heads or look away. and the microphone is designed to eliminate background noise. Headsets also reduce feedback and eliminate echo.