Community Telco targets healthcare as first sector to natr

Telecommunications company Community Telco will launch its new cloud-based video conferencing solution natr at the Australian Telehealth Conference (ATC) later this month.

natr (pronounced 'natter') is a secure, managed solution using LifeSize's UVC platform, amongst others, and a virtualised suite of video conferencing products including ClearSea for mobile devices. ClearSea is also available on the desktop and is interoperable with other standards-based equipment such as Polycom and Cisco.

For natr, the point of difference will be its 24/7 localised support, using existing data storage and network infrastructure from Community Telco, a community-based telecoms company that is part of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group, which reinvests a percentage of profits back into community projects.

natr product founder, Gareth Hagebols, said the platform would provide all of the video conferencing infrastructure required for telehealth, including bridging, recording, streaming, multiparty calling and scheduling of meetings, as a virtualised, managed solution.

“Currently we are partnering with LifeSize for our enterprise solution,” Mr Hagebols said. “This consists of a range of video infrastructure as a service (VIaaS) products which are supported locally.

“We also provide the network connectivity and hosted servers required to operate natr where needed. Our aim is not to deliver the biggest video platform in the country, but to offer a higher level of local dedicated support, better assisting clients with implementation of their solutions, rather than just selling them a product.”

Community Telco has been providing full telecoms services for over 10 years and has been active in the healthcare market for about five. It has chosen healthcare as the launch sector for natr following successful trials late last year.

“There is a huge potential and a number of use cases for these products in the healthcare industry,” Mr Hagebols said. “There are obvious benefits to the industry through utilising telehealth and we already have some partners in that sector, so it is a nice fit for us.”

He said Community Telco had noticed several years ago that a lot of video conferencing infrastructure products were being virtualised and saw that as an opportunity to change the way it was delivering its VC solutions.

“It is also a change in the way in which we are doing business internally ourselves,” he said. “From a national and global perspective, there is a greater need to change the way organisations do business. Virtualisation is an opportunity for everyone to be able to take part in this without the need for large capital outlay.”

natr will work on iOS and Android devices and on Windows or OSX on the desktop. Scheduling for multiparty calls can be handled by an Outlook interface, and there is also scheduling capability through natr's call centre.

“It is another level of service and support where we take the responsibility for the resource drain away from the medical receptionist and do some of that for them,” he said.

While the majority of general practitioners use Skype, natr will be a managed service that has more in common with boutique online video conferencing companies like Arkadin or Blue Jeans. However, Mr Hagebols said natr would provide more local support and client interface as it can use the resources of Community Telco's local call centres and technicians.

“We've retrained our staff in assisting and supporting the video conferencing products and on natr, so essentially we are expanding on the resources we already have in place,” he said.

Pricing will be competitive with other telco offerings, and natr is currently looking for industry-based opportunities to reinvest funds in the same way Community Telco does with its other telecoms services.

“We essentially provide margin shares or income streams back into community organisations from the revenue the clients spend anyway,” he said. “Our healthcare play will see us provide a community benefit but it will be an industry benefit as opposed to the traditional community.

“We are still fleshing this out at the moment but it will be along the lines of providing subsidies for training possibly and perhaps linking in with universities or healthcare service providers.”

natr's initial partners for its enterprise offering are LifeSize, Samsung and Firefly, and the company will have a shared infrastructure offer releasing in the first quarter of the 2014/15 financial year, which will give smaller organisations the opportunity to use the video conferencing solutions for a small monthly subscription and no start-up costs.

The Australian Telehealth Conference is being held in Melbourne on March 19 and 20.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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