Providing health care services via telemedicine offers many advantages. It can make specialty care more accessible to underserved rural and urban populations. Video consultations from a rural clinic to a specialist can aggravate prohibitive travel and associated costs for patients.
Video conferencing also opens up new possibilities for continuing education or training for isolated or rural health practitioners, who may not be able to leave a rural practice to take part in professional meetings or educational opportunities. Now with ease in the costs and availability of high end technology it is much easier and faster to implement telemedicine applications for remote areas which are medically underprivileged.
Barriers to Telemedicine
There are several barriers to the practice of telemedicine such as the lack of procedural proficiency and unavailability of resources, high infrastructure costs etc. Many potential telemedicine projects have been hampered by the lack of appropriate telecommunications technology. Regular telephone lines do not supply adequate bandwidth for most telemedical applications. Many rural areas do not have cable wiring or other kinds of telecommunications access required for more refined uses, so those who could most benefit from telemedicine may not have access to it. Pressure on the appropriate government and legislative agencies will surely increase as more people realize the benefits of telemedicine.
Telemedicine will soon be just another way to see a health care professional, just as seeing friends and family while talking to them on the phone is becoming commonplace. Technology manufacturers and telecommunications companies are already vying with each other to produce the low–cost equipment and bandwidth needed. Distance education is commonplace and most educational institutions, and many companies allay travel costs for meetings by using video. Ten years or fifteen years ago we had no idea we would rely heavily on faxes, answering machines and e–mail, tools which are now low–tech and taken for granted. Since early 2000, the ramifications of E–Health (a general term encompassing health care delivery, administration and information dissemination) and it’s relationship to telemedicine are being analyzed.