What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine, Telehealth and Teleradiology are terms that refer to the process of providing medical information over electronic communication equipment. Telemedicine uses a range of technologies including standard telephone service, high-speed internet, wide-bandwidth transmission  in conjunction with computers, fiber optics, satellites, and other sophisticated peripheral equipment and software.

There are three models of Telemedicine: Real Time, Store and Forward and Home Health Medicine. Real time telemedicine allows doctors or doctors and patients to communicate together to assess or contribute to the patient’s health care. This can be done by telephone, internet web conferencing, video conferencing or even posting to a private internet discussion board.

The store and forward model of Telemedicine refers to the transmission of medical data from one device to a recipient who reviews the data on another device. For example, when a patient is scanned on a bone density scanner, the resulting scan, analysis and quantitative data can be electronically transmitted via dicom format to a storage device. Cardea Technology’s BoneStation system is an example of a store and forward system used for teleradiology. The scans from the bone density machine are transmitted to the BoneStation central database where a physician can retrieve and view them through the BoneStation web application.

Home health telemedicine refers to measurements or treatments that are given to patients in their home and the results are transmitted back to a medical center, usually some distance away. Home health equipment consists of capturing vital signs, video conferencing capabilities, and the gathering of patient information from a remote monitoring device that can be reviewed and alarms can be set from the hospital nurse’s station, depending on the specific device.

For more in depth information on telemedicine, please refer to these professional telemedicine organizations and web sites:

Telemedicine Information Exchange

American Telemedicine Association

International Society of Telemedicine and eHealth

Great Plains Telehealth Resource & Assistance Center

Canadian Society of Telehealth

California Telemedicine and Ehealth Center (CTEC)