Liz Rowland (our Customer Service Rep) and I are here to discuss our recent journey through the complex maze that is video streaming platforms. There are frequent discussions on SIG 18 about what platform people are using, so I know we’re not the only ones out there facing this. We thought we’d share our path and our current status for your reading pleasure, and to contribute to the greater discussion out there.
Before we get started, though, a little disclaimer: we’re not making recommendations and we’re not paid by any of these guys to say anything. This is just our experience and our current thoughts.
Now then . . .
Picture this: a new client eagerly clicks on a meeting link with the expectation that they’re about to meet their new speech-language pathologist via video-conference. This client is excited to improve their communication issue through therapy and to do it all online from the comfort of their own home or office. But, instead of that link connecting them to a screen where they meet their cheery SLP, everything turns dark. Only the audio and chat feature seem to be working. Now picture a third person typing IMs during the session, trying to help both client and clinician navigate the platform. After a few minutes of troubleshooting, the SLP suggests they just use the audio portion to discuss the client’s speech needs.
First impression? Not good.
Worst part? This actually happened to us.
What platform were we using when this infamous session happened?
We used GoToMeeting (GTM) for a year and by the time this happened, we were VERY over it. True, it is very affordable (free!) and has many of the features that we like (screen sharing, shared control, text chat) but it’s also been an ongoing challenge. Some of the problems we experienced were mysterious and spread across several users. Sometimes it was easy to access meetings, sometimes not. Sometimes, meetings even disappeared off of our schedule. If you hadn’t used it in over a month, it was easy to forget what to do . . . the user interface wasn’t terribly intuitive to clinicians or clients, and it changes frequently.
Liz hated it because of scheduling issues. Granted we were using one interface for more than one user. Not the recommended method, but we’re trying to have a scheduler and . . . anyway. She felt constantly challenged by the system “undoing” her work when she chose dates and times. This was such a problem that she had to repeatedly check each scheduled meeting to be sure that it was correct. Every once in a while she wouldn’t catch the error and someone would receive a meeting invitation that was for the wrong day, time, or timezone. This issue alone added countless hours of labor and frustration, not to mention unprofessional embarrassments with clients.
That infamous session was the final straw. It was time to find a new video-conferencing platform. We wanted our clients to feel that online sessions were truly as easy as they can be! I had recently written a post called 8 Essential Video Conferencing Features for Telepractice, so Liz used that as a checklist for what our new platform should look like. Liz had some additional items on her wishlist as well: 1) competitive pricing, 2) good quality, and 3) solid support. So, the search began.
In our next post, we’ll share more details about how we went about narrowing the field of contenders, and also share our experiences with Lync and Zoom. But between now and then, we’d love to know if you’ve been on a similar journey. What it’s been like for you? And what did you find?
This post is part of our ongoing series, Between Two Screens, in which we share our take on the ever-changing and always-exciting world of speech language pathology and telepractice. Check out our other posts and let us know if there’s a topic you’d like us to cover!