The COVID epidemic has been a tremendous burden on us all. Yet one potential upside is that the deposition process can be made more efficient with teleconferencing, particularly in California where the mere act of coming and going to a doctor's or attorney's office can impose a substantial time commitment. I have attended many depositions that last less than an hour that attorneys have driven two hours to attend. There has to be a more efficient way.

Many of the practical obstacles of telehealth are not problematic as most doctors and attorneys are sufficiently computer literate to connect to a conference link. If not, at least they should have access to a staff member who can guide them through the process.   

In my brief experience, I have come against a few obstacles that can easily be overcome.   For starters, a laptop or tablet is preferable to a smartphone not so much for resolution but weight and stability.   A 5G connection is preferred to 2G and a direct cable connection is best. All VPN connections should be turned off as that slows down transmission.   

For the video component, the camera should be mounted about 5 degrees ABOVE the subject to avoid the Orwellian fish eye effect and the subject framed at a three or four to one ratio to the borders, mimicking the frame of a news anchor on television, because this is the individual presentation we are most used to.    

Excessive backlighting should be avoided, particularly those from a bright window as this creates an eclipse effect blunting the facial features. At least two lights should light the face from the front to soften shadows and highlight the face.  

For the audio aspect, a small earphone/mic combination works well and this avoid the "shouting at the screen" problem of computer mics.  

A quiet room away from house noise and a closed door is desirable and a set up completely away from the main house in a granny shack is ideal, if available. A green screen may be used to hide home backgrounds for privacy reasons. 

With teleconferencing, it should be possible to schedule six depositions a day rather than two.   

James O'Brien, M.D.

 

 

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