Modeling of Total Costs of Videoconferencing in Two Different Tele-Network Sites in Alberta

A. Ohinmaa and R. Scott (Canada)

Keywords

Cost, modeling, videoconferencing, ISDN, and broad bandwidth

Abstract

Background: Videoconferencing (VC) is an essential part of the Canadian healthcare system. This study is a part of a larger economic study of telehealth, and it aims to compare the cost of VC using ISDN and broad bandwidth (SuperNet) connectivity. Methods: Cost models were developed for two study sites that included all identifiable cost variables, measured their physical units, and valued them at 2003 market prices. Investment costs are allocated for 5 years (except SuperNet for 4-years life span). Results: For VC at individual sites, a SuperNet connection was more expensive than an ISDN connection. While investment costs for ISDN connectivity were about half of SuperNet costs, this advantage was lost to high time-based line and bridge costs. Telehealth technician costs also raised the cost of SuperNet. Sensitivity analysis showed the change from ISDN to SuperNet would only become a cost saving strategy for high utilization VC sites. Average costs were sensitive only to the utilization rate. Conclusion: The results indicate that a change to widespread (provincial, territorial, or country wide) use of broad bandwidth connectivity could be cost saving for VC only if the frequency of sessions per site was high and the management of sessions efficient.

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