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Internet teleconferencing software can be used to hold “virtual” meetings, during which participants around the world can share ideas. A core group of anesthetic medical practitioners, largely consisting of the Society for Advanced Telecommunications in Anesthesia (SATA), has begun to hold regularly scheduled “virtual grand rounds.” This paper examines currently available software and offers impressions of our own early experiences with this technology. Two teleconferencing systems have been used: White Pine Software CU-SeeMe and Microsoft NetMeeting. While both provided acceptable results, each had specific advantages and disadvantages. CU-SeeMe is easier to use when conferences include more than two participants. NetMeeting provides higher quality audio and video signals under crowded network conditions, and is better for conferences with only two participants. While some effort is necessary to get these teleconferencing systems to work well, we have been using desktop conferencing for six months to hold virtual Internet meetings. The sound and video images produced by Internet teleconferencing software are inferior to dedicated point-to-point teleconferencing systems. However, low cost, wide availability, and ease of use make this technology a potentially valuable tool for clinicians and researchers.

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