Respiratory applications of telemedicine
- Dr C B Cooper, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, 37-131 CHS, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1690, USA;
Dramatic advances in electronic communications have expanded access to information and contributed vastly to global human knowledge and understanding. At the same time, electronic acquisition, processing, storage and transmission of data is rapidly becoming an integral part of modern health care. The potential seems boundless. The electronic medical record has the ability to improve the reliability and completeness of individual healthcare information and should therefore facilitate continuity of care between healthcare providers and minimise human errors. At the same time, legislators have seen the absolute necessity to respect privacy in handling protected health information.1
A promising application of electronic data transmission in healthcare development and delivery is telemedicine.2 Telemedicine has evolved from the development of synchronous data modalities, through data transfer and storage, towards automated decision making and robotics.3 One recent review article4 analysed 104 published articles on telemedicine in order to develop an operational definition. The authors concluded that telemedicine is a branch of e-health that uses communications networks for delivery of healthcare services and medical education from one geographical location to another. Although more than 50% of published articles on telemedicine originate from the USA,3 telemedicine has the potential to advance healthcare delivery in developing or underserved regions of the world by concentration of expertise in special centres and dissemination of services through information technologies. Teleradiology, for example, enables radiographs and CT scans to be read at remote specialised centres in other countries.5 Approaches such as this should not only make services more widely accessible, but should also enhance the uniformity of quality of services throughout populations.
As telemedicine finds its way into mainstream medical practice, a number of …