Best video chat option for a solitary hospital stay
May 6, 2020 1:55 PM   Subscribe

After a successful treatment on alemtuzumab, my father will be getting an autologous stem cell transplant, going in on Monday for chemo. For obvious reasons, he will not be allowed any visitors. What is the best video chat option?

He will have an iphone and a windows computer, and will be in contact with people who have both iphones and androids, and windows and macs. We don't anticipate needing multiple people on the same video call. What ONE app will work for everyone on both formats? It is not possible for him to learn multiple different methods, everyone else will follow his lead. (So facetime is out, not everyone has apple.) I was thinking Google Hangouts, but maybe Zoom is easier? Skype? Whatsapp?
posted by sockingjay to Technology (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd say check out Google Duo, which is geared towards being easier to use. Good luck to your father.
posted by bluecore at 2:30 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]

If most of the people are already tied into the Google ecosystem, that's the path of least resistance, unless there's someone critical to him that abstains from using Google products.

They're all fairly easy to use and fairly good quality at this point, especially for just two way video calling, so it comes down to what you can get people to install on their devices.
posted by Candleman at 2:38 PM on May 6

Zoom. Just install the app and you’re done. Cross platform. Painless.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:53 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]

If you value privacy use Jitsi. Works on any platform: Android, Apple, Windows, whatever, or even just in a browser; very simple to use.
posted by anadem at 4:33 PM on May 6

I would suggest installing whatever video conference software you choose on the iPhone rather than the laptop. Laptops are bigger, heavier, and less convenient to keep within reach of a hospital bed. A laptop that’s turned off or in sleep mode won’t receive video calls. The iPhone probably has a better camera and microphone versus the laptop.

The installation and setup of the App is probably the most difficult part of this process. Fortunately it sounds like you’ll be able to help with that beforehand.

Receiving/joining a video call is easier than starting one so I recommend family/friends call your Dad for maximum ease.

WhatsApp and Google Duo are the more user friendly Android/Apple compatible options in my experience. I’ve helped about 20 people install Zoom and it can be intimidating for many tech challenged people.
posted by mundo at 7:15 PM on May 6

Thank you for thinking ahead about this! I’ve arranged lots of video calls for patients lately and have had to figure out a bunch of platforms. It really, really helps when patients and families have already made a plan. FaceTime is by far the easiest, but since that’s out Google Duo is a close second.

You may have already thought of this, but having a long charger cord (6’ +) for the phone is really helpful— there may not be outlets close to the bed, or they may all be used for medical equipment.
posted by charmcityblues at 11:32 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]

WhatsApp if they are already using that platform? Organise and conduct sessions all on one platform.
posted by teststrip at 3:50 AM on May 7

Seconding those who say to use something 1) on the phone 2) where an outside person can place a call and it rings through to your father. Much easier than having your father click a link to join a zoom or jitsi call, unless he’s already very comfortable with one of those platforms.

Also in addition to the long charger cord consider getting him an external battery so that he can charge his phone a couple times without leaving bed (depending on how long he’s in there, might also want a charger for the battery).
posted by mskyle at 4:25 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]

Zoom is out, I've used it and it's a huge pain, we need something really simple. Duo seems easier than Hangouts, even, as it does in fact ring through (which is desired). I'm assuming mostly it will be phone calls, but I want the option of video, I think over the course of a month he will want it too.

He does have a charging cord setup from his last visit. At least we know what was useful there because it won't be easy to bring things to him now.
posted by sockingjay at 8:30 AM on May 7

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