Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide
clinical health care at a distance. It helps eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to
medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities. It is also
used to save lives in critical care and emergency situations.
Although there were distant precursors to telemedicine, it is essentially a product of 20th century
telecommunication and information technologies. These technologies permit communications
between patient and medical staff with both convenience and fidelity, as well as the transmission of
medical, imaging and health informatics data from one site to another.
Early forms of telemedicine achieved with telephone and radio have been supplemented with
videotelephony, advanced diagnostic methods supported by distributed client/server applications,
and additionally with telemedical devices to support in-home care.
Telemedicine can be beneficial to patients living in isolated communities and remote regions, who
can receive care from doctors or specialists far away without the patient having to travel to visit them.
Recent developments in mobile collaboration technology can allow healthcare professionals in
multiple locations to share information and discuss patient issues as if they were in the same place.
Remote patient monitoring through mobile technology can reduce the need for outpatient visits and
enable remote prescription verification and drug administration oversight, potentially significantly
reducing the overall cost of medical care.
Health information technology (HIT) provides the umbrella framework to describe the comprehensive
management of health information across computerized systems and its secure exchange between
consumers, providers, government and quality entities, and insurers. Health information technology
(HIT) is in general increasingly viewed as the most promising tool for improving the overall quality,
safety and efficiency of the health delivery system (Chaudhry et al., 2006). Broad and consistent
utilization of HIT will:
Improve health care quality;
Prevent medical errors;
Reduce health care costs;
Increase administrative efficiencies and
Decrease paperwork; and
Expand access to affordable care.
Interoperable HIT will improve individual patient care, but it will also bring many public health benefits
Early detection of infectious disease outbreaks around the country;
Improved tracking of chronic disease management; and
Promotion of health care based on value enabled by the collection of quality information that can be
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