NetBIOS over TCP/IP, also known as NBT, is a bad idea whose time never should have come. We all know we shouldn’t use it, or WINS for that matter; we should just use DNS everywhere. And we also know that we shouldn’t eat a lot of bacon. But if someone has a plate of bacon ready for me at the bottom of the stairs every morning, I will eat some of that bacon, every morning. And so it is for NetBIOS: in a few cases, such as when connecting to a particular VPN, I will eat the bacon of technology and just let NetBIOS resolve the host names on the remote network.

For the last 15 years, this has generally worked well. And why not? NetBIOS is grossly inefficient–firing broadcasts of all kinds around the entire LAN (and if on a VPN, the remote network) to find out who is who and what is what–but that’s like using a tennis racket to hit a ping pong ball: you’ll hit the ball, every time.

Yesterday, NetBIOS name resolution just stopped working for me. I had put my Windows 7 workstation onto the network of a large corporate customer, and noticed I could no longer reach remote VPN machines using their NetBIOS names. That’s OK, I thought, when I get back onto my home network, all will be well. But all wasn’t well, even on my home network.

After quite a bit of googling, trial, and failure, most of it involving running various nbtstat commands on my adapters or net view commands, I found that ipconfig /all showed a working computer to have a Node Type of “Hybrid“, and my failing workstation to have a Node Type of “Peer-Peer“.

To set the Node Type to “Hybrid”, I had to edit the registry as described here, using these steps:

1) Run the registry editor and open this key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Netbt\Parameters
2) Delete the DhcpNodeType value if it’s present.
3) If the NodeType value isn’t present, create it using type: DWORD.
4) Set NodeType to 8 (Hybrid).

Then I disabled and re-enabled my network adapter, and voila! I could once again use NetBIOS, both on my LAN and to reach remote hosts over VPN. Now that’s some good bacon!…

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Telemedicine offers a host of benefits to healthcare providers and their patients alike. Providers are able to treat patients quickly and efficiently; they often achieve better health outcomes, and can offer exceptional care to individuals they might not otherwise be able to reach. Likewise, patients no longer have to miss work or endure the cost to travel, are more likely to keep follow-up appointments, and can generally better manage chronic conditions. The adoption of videoconferencing technologies seems like a win-win, and the next logical step to take in growing your medical practice, but there’s one lingering concern: ensuring HIPAA compliance.

Fortunately, it’s as easy as choosing a HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing platform (Like that offered by SecureVideo).

The right telemedicine platform can afford practitioners the unique ability to diagnose and treat remote patients without sacrificing the security of their personal health information — or, not to mention, the practitioner’s compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). That said, it’s important to understand that not all videoconferencing solutions are created equal. It’s important to do the research, to talk with the providers under consideration, and to select one that meets all the right benchmarks.

The solution must be encrypted.

 What does that mean, an encrypted solution? In a word: protection. The process of encryption scrambles the video packets of data as they travel across the Web, so that data cannot be intercepted and understood until it reaches the video software on the recipient’s device and is then decrypted.

Why is that so important, encryption? A patient sitting in an exam room with his doctor feels secure knowing he and his health information are… secure. An encrypted videoconferencing solution promises patients the same level of protection when receiving medical care remotely.

The videoconferencing solution should leverage peer-to-peer networking.

What does that even mean? The videoconferencing solution you choose for use in your medical practice should leverage a certain type of Internet connection known as a peer-to-peer network. Networks, and connections of this type are the most secure method of transmission since they do not need to run through a server, at which point data streams are most vulnerable to attack.

Again, it’s all about protecting the patient and his health.

It is vitally important that session recording be done in a secure, and HIPAA-compliant manner.

The recording of videoconference sessions creates significant security risks, but also creates a vital history of care. SecureVideo ensures the utmost levels of HIPAA compliance in the storage of session data on the cloud — for the healthcare provider’s benefit as well as the patient’s. (It should be noted: Session data should never, ever be stored within the local files on one’s computer.)

A Business Associate Agreement should be offered.

 Under the guidelines set out by HIPAA for these purposes, the solutions provider (known as the business associate, defined as any entity that will perform activities on behalf of) and the provider must enter into a contract to ensure that all protected health information is safeguarded by all parties. Request, read, and understand the agreement offered, and don’t consider a provider who will not offer one.

Leaps in technology can be intimidating, and maybe even more so when there are privacy and security related laws to consider. But the good news is this: You don’t have to look any farther, because there’s one solution that has it all.

Contact SecureVideo today to discuss your HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing needs, and what we can do to propel your practice into the future of telemedicine

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