Toolkits

Digital Camera - DSLR - Deployment and Support

 It doesn’t matter if you are purchasing one DSLR camera or purchasing multiple DSLR cameras, there are many variables to consider when selecting a model that will most fully meet your programmatic needs. Cutting corners before sending DSLR cameras out into the field can result in hidden costs down the road, unhappy customers, and a headache for support staff. It is critical to take some time for planning before even thinking about calling a vendor to place an order for equipment.  It is best to spend the majority of your time and energy planning for your purchase ahead of time. There is a need to establish a baseline of standardized equipment, required consumables, and intended support system. After the initial planning phases, minimal additional work must go into support, purchasing, and deployment.

Planning

Thorough planning will pay off in the end; the expected results would be that your telehealth program will purchase the most appropriate equipment the first time. It is best to conduct an internal needs analysis, which will determine the minimum technical requirements of your program's camera. Adequate planning will consider: potential use cases for the device, your organization’s equipment budget, initial and ongoing training and support needs, and existing equipment compatibility concerns.

Needs Analysis

Selecting the right DSLR camera from the market and making it work for a program’s needs can be a difficult process. In addition to selecting the DSLR camera body, many supporting pieces of technology may need to be selected. When you are thinking about incorporating a DSLR camera to your program or designing a new program around the need to use a DSLR camera, you need to consider many variables in the needs analysis. Consider the users, existing systems, equipment available for adjunct use, and the specialties that will utilize the equipment. A thorough needs analysis is a fact-finding mission that will arm you with the best information available when it is time for you to make a decision.

Use Case

In determining a technology’s use case, you are assessing the technology as it applies to your program and how it will be used by your staff. Some things to consider:

  • Do you have a specific program, specialty application, or group of clinicians in mind for this technology application?
  • Is there an idea present that clearly leads to the development of a clinical program, or is this an idea that needs further development before a clinical program can be put into place?

It is helpful to know the users of a technology to help make the most appropriate technology selection. Defining the users ahead of time will save effort in the end. Some things to consider:

  • Who will use this technology?
  • Have these clinicians as a group been a part of the process involved with selecting and utilizing this new technology?
  • Is there clinical buy-in and support for the use of this technology?
  • How much time do the clinicians have to devote to an encounter with the patient?
  • What types of technology are they already accustomed to as a group?
  • What is the clinician’s level of comfort with this technology in general?
  • Is this a technology currently utilized by this clinical group or will this be adding a new element to an existing workload?
  • By deploying this new technology, how will you be augmenting or improving an existing clinical workflow?

When considering the incorporation of a DSLR camera into a clinical workflow, some additional considerations must be addressed, such as:

  • Do you plan to make use of this technology in an asynchronous, synchronous, or combined fashion?
  • Do you plan to purchase new DSLR cameras and supporting equipment, or will you utilize previously purchased/obtained DSLR cameras?
  • Do the clinicians have preexisting equipment biases that will influence the technology selections?
  • Does the adjunct equipment that will be utilized with the DSLR camera put any restrictions on the camera body selection?
  • What additional equipment will be required to deploy these DSLR cameras?
  • What, if any, additional staff will be required to deploy these DSLR cameras within their intended clinical program?

Budget

After a use case has been defined, you can then make sure you represent every element of the program in your budgetary analysis. For some organizations, these initial steps of use case analysis and budgetary estimation and analysis must be completed first before funding can be secured. This will depend on the funding sources for your program. Regardless, the financial requirements of this purchase and deployment take thorough planning and consideration.

When considering a capital budget for DSLR cameras and their associated equipment, take into consideration:

  • Actual equipment costs may include:
    • Equipment to be immediately used
      • DSLR cameras
      • Lens (macro, multiple focal lengths, zoom)
      • Special lens filters
      • Additional or new PCs or laptops
      • Additional or new videoconferencing equipment
      • Tripod
      • Wireless file transmission devices
      • Image data storage (longterm & shorterm)
      • Light sources
      • Accompanying software (i.e. store & forward platforms, chain of custody software, PACS systems, etc.)
      • Screen calibration tools
      • Image review software
      • Additional accompanying hardware (i.e. colposcopes, microscope attachments, etc.)
      • Imaging room renovation costs
    • Equipment that will be maintained in stock
      • All replacement parts and/or units
      • Clinical photography consumables (i.e. drapes, measuring tapes, etc.)
      • DSLR camera-related consumables
    • Warranties
    • Upgrade plans
    • Training/demo units
    • Assessment budget for upgrades as replacement devices are needed in the future
    • Associated network-related fees
    • Associated additional hardware fees
      • Related consumables (i.e. batteries, cords, light bulbs, etc.)
    • Associated software fees
      • End user licensing fees
    • Program development, program administration, and training support staff costs
    • Staff
    • Training space
    • Development of training materials

It is important to consider all the people that are required to make a technology work, and make sure they are budgeted for. Some personnel to consider:

  • Clinicians
  • Training and support personnel
  • Biomedical and technical support personnel
  • Network personnel
  • Administrative personnel
  • Consultants
  • Additional far-site employees/clinicians

When considering training and support, a plan needs to be developed for initial, ongoing, and maintenance training and support. Some things to consider:

  • How many new pieces of hardware and/or software will a user need to learn to be able to use the new DSLR camera?
  • Is the hardware and/or software intuitive enough to use that it does not need initial training?
  • Can your organization provide:
    • Hands-on support to a few challenged users?
    • Online support modules?
    • User manuals?
    • An in-house support phone line to handle support phone calls?
    • Access to the manufacturer’s online or telephonic support system?
  • Does the initial training have to be hands on and/or face-to-face?
    • Can initial training be accomplished in an online format?
  • Can the initial training period be decreased with online training modules preceding an in-person class?
    • How many users will require initial training?
  • What type of ongoing training will be required for the units?
  • Will yearly compliance training be required?
  • How many new users are expected on a yearly basis?
    • What is your organization’s policy for new-user training?
  • How often will training be offered as equipment, hardware, and processes are changed?
    • How will this training be accomplished?

Existing Equipment Compatibility Concerns

If you are deploying all new DSLR camera-related technologies you will be less likely to have any compatibility concerns to contend with initially. Even then, this will only be the case if you have done your homework ahead of time. You have to purchase equipment to accompany existing equipment, make sure that all components are compatible when combined with the DSLR cameras, and that you purchase the correct make and models of DSLR cameras. This is a case when working closely with the vendors can be very important. However, even if you are able to purchase all new compatible equipment, also being mindful in your long-term planning can save you compatibility concerns in the future when it comes to upgrades and updates. Some of the compatibility issues that will arise cannot be planned for or prevented, and are simply an artifact of changing technology.

Support Plan

You can use the elements that you've already budgeted for to help you further define your support plan. If new elements are discovered, make sure to add them to your budget. A support plan is very cyclical, and depends widely on the lifecycle of the type of technology that you are deploying. It starts with purchasing equipment, installing equipment, providing initial and ongoing training for users, supporting the equipment, updating and repairing the equipment, and then preparing for the next equipment deployment cycle.

Initial

You will have an initial investment in the purchase and installation of the new equipment, as well as training the users on the new technology. You may want to consider a pilot to see how the deployment goes and give your program a cushion to work out the kinks associated with any new program deployment. A pilot can aide you in identifying elements that you may not have known to consider and make concessions for them, and sometimes determining the future success or failure of your clinical program.

Warranty

Each manufacturer offers different warranties and warranty terms. It is essential to understand the terms for the equipment that you have purchased. Many organizations have biomedical technicians that service medical equipment  within their organization, but many of the DSLR cameras and associated equipment warranties may be voided if you attempt to repair the units yourself. You need to consider the price of the units that you are purchasing related to the estimated product lifetime when considering additional warranties for equipment that you purchase. If a DSLR camera unit or associated equipment requires repair, it may be completely taken out of use. This option is often inconvenient in a large organization or for a clinical program that depends on the equipment for regular operation. You might want to consider having additional back up units for use while damaged units are being repaired.

Training

Proper training in the use of the equipment may prolong the lifespan of the equipment. Theoretically, users who know what they are doing will not misuse the equipment or cause support issues. Also, initial user training will reduce the amount of ongoing support that is required. Use the section on Training and Support to guide you in creating a training plan.

Ongoing

Deploying a technology into the field is like gardening. You work hard initially planning and preparing, then you plant it and hope for the best. Any good gardener knows without weeding and watering your harvest will be marginal at best. You need to plan for ongoing support for the technology in just the same way.

Upkeep/Upgrades

The technology that you deploy will eventually break and/or malfunction with repeated use. You can plan for this with an ongoing support plan. When considering ongoing support you have to remember all of the technology associated with the DSLR cameras use. You may have repairs, warranty related replacements, replacements that are not covered by warranty, and equipment updates to contend with. Consider:

  • Associated software and firmware upgrades may need to be deployed
  • Technology will age and need to be refreshed as part of its product lifecycle

Technology Refresh

Depending on your initial investment and the involved technology’s lifecycle, you will have to make some decisions surrounding a technology refresh at some point. Some of this technology is ever-evolving, with new units coming out every year, while others are more durable and may last longer. At times it will not be the actual DSLR camera technology or its associated technology that necessitates a refresh; rather, the role of the technology in the clinical program may change and require new technology to be considered and purchased. When considering a refresh, you have to decide:

  • Will you refresh all the technology at once, or do it incrementally?
  • Will you blend old and new technologies?
  • Will you keep old technologies around after new ones are introduced?
  • How comprehensive of a technology assessment will you conduct before selecting your next technology?

Purchasing

Once you have completed the extensive planning process and secured your budget, purchasing the equipment will not be difficult. Each organization has different methods and processes for purchasing equipment, but the good news is you will know exactly what you need to purchase in order to get your program operational. In this instance, included in the purchase process may be the hiring of new or additional staff, or repurposing existing staff members. You need to allow adequate time if new staff need to be hired, and you may need a contingency plan in the case you are not be able to find adequate staff. Also, as part of your planning process, you need to consider your timeline for purchasing the necessary equipment so it's received in a timely fashion and doesn't stall your deployment.

Deployment

Deployment should run smoothly after the thorough assessment and planning process. However, there are some remaining considerations related to equipment deployment:

  • Will you ship equipment directly to project sites or utilize a warehouse for staging and assembly?
  • Did you budget for warehouse space and staff?
  • Do you have an equipment tracking plan in place to keep tabs on the equipment?
  • Is any assembly required before the units are deployed?
  • Do you have the staff for the assembly?

If you are shipping equipment directly to project sites:

  • Do you plan on having existing clinical staff assemble the technology?
  • Is the staff aware they are receiving the shipment?
  • Is there space at the project site to receive, stage, and assemble the equipment?
  • Did you plan training for the clinic staff to be able to assemble the equipment?

Once the equipment has successfully been deployed and installed, it is time to put the training and support plans into action and eventually start your program.

Back to Top