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Telemedicine is a system in healthcare provision for practitioners employing telecommunication and information technologies during the provision of healthcare to patients. It is a recent development where telemedical devices are utilized in providing home-based care. Teleradiology is a sub-branch of telemedicine that deals with radiographic images like the x-rays and post emission tomography. This facilitates the transmission of computerized tomography from one location to another, a scenario that enables practitioners to attend their patients at a distance (Blyth, 1990). The system requires three basic components including the transmitter of images, a transmission network, and the receiver.
The initial telemedicine system was developed in 1989 by MedPhorne Corporation. It operated over a number of telecommunication channels in a manner that facilitated medication without having to travel over long distances. The monitoring of the patient’s condition, as well as the transfer of findings to healthcare providers has been a fast growing technique. The practice has spread to other nations such as India, a country that is making remarkable progress in medicine. In India, telemedicine has been facilitating the focus on the morbidity and diseases. Success of telemedicine has prompted other poorer nations to incorporate cheap but effective systems such as the Primary Remote Diagnostic Visits (Komiya et al, 1982). Such systems are preferable in instances where patients’ movement aggravates their conditions. In these arrangements, medical practitioners attend their patients at home.
Telemedicine alleviates the barriers of distance since the patients can be attended to without necessarily being in the clinic. It improves access to medical care that is often a challenge to those living in the far rural areas. It is also of great importance in cases of emergencies and critical care provision. The system permits communications between patients and medical care providers in which the two parties play their roles at the convenience of their locations. This is because telemedicine allows the transmission of medical X-ray imaging, computerized tomography imaging, post emission tomography, and informatics data from the patient’s site to the medical care provider site (Kumar, 2009).
Telemedicine is valuable to people who live in isolated areas and remote regions. People in these areas are attended to without the necessity of travelling. Recent developments in mobile technology allow healthcare providers in multiple locations to examine the patient and discuss his/her condition as if the two are in the same room. Another application of telemedicine is in training. Trainers give instructions to their students from a remote location. The system also provides an examination technique that is more efficient. The system has advanced access to healthcare for those living in rural areas (Nakajima et al, 2006). The system has also reduced the cost of healthcare, besides, enhancing efficiency through management of chronic diseases. Research works have indicated an increased satisfaction among patients who have utilized the system (Traynor et al, 2010). Normally, patients are provided with monitoring gadgets at their places of residence. The gadgets provide the patient with information that allows him to perform minor healthcare services on his own. In dire cases, the system enables the patient to contact his/her doctor in a timely manner.
Limitations of telemedicine
As discussed earlier, telemedicine has brought benefits to the patient, healtcare providers and the nation as a whole. However, the system has limitations. For instance, the privacy of the medical information is not guaranteed since data transmission over the internet is at risk of being accessed by hackers. Concerns over such leakages have hindered trust between the practitioner and the patients. The system also does not provide direct linkage between the doctor and his patient hence there is a relationship that develops between the two and this may hinder the compliance of the patient.
There are liabilities that accrue to providers and their organizations (Traynor et al, 2010). A number of limitations are accrued to the consumer. They include the level of trust between the patient and the health care provider and inadequate knowledge on the use of technology. The patient is not reassured of the privacy of his medical information and, therefore, he may opt not to use the telemedicine system because of such concerns. Healthcare providers perceive that the system has a couple of limitations. These limitations include concerns over ethical issues, lack of technical know-how, and communication barriers between the doctor and his patients. Provider and patient relationship is hampered by the system.
Telemedicine is facing a couple of challenges. However, the system is still considered superior to other systems of healthcare provision. Nevertheless, research is continuing, and studies indicate that the system will achieve a breakthrough in the near future. Telemedicine is hoped to reduce the cost of medication as expenses resulting from travelling costs and lost time will be eliminated.