The Future of Telemedicine
Telemedicine uses a range of technologies including standard telephone service and high-speed, digital connections with computers, and other sophisticated equipment and software to provide medical care remotely.
Crane: Telemedicine provides healthcare for people from a distance. Currently, telemedicine connections exist in all fifty states, primarily remote areas.
Shannon: The priorities are the people who live at great distances from healthcare facilities in the larger urban areas.
Crane: Gary Shannon is a professor of Geography at the University of Kentucky who has been studying telemedicine for the past thirty years.
Shannon: Telemedicine can prevent people, especially the chronic elderly, from having to be re-admitted to hospitals so many times and having so many tests. Because they can be monitored in their home, so they donít have to go to the hospital.
Crane: Professor Shannon says that telemedicine saves money for both patients and healthcare providers.
Shannon: It certainly reduces costs for the patients in terms of having to travel and out of pocket costs and opportunity costs. But it also I think reduces the loads on the specialists and on the hospitals, and that they no longer are seeing people who really donít need to be seen, and so they have free time to really devote to people who really need to be seen.
Crane: Professor Shannon feels everyone could benefit from telemedicine, especially if it is used in preventative medicine.
Shannon: There are a number of studies in pediatric endocrinology using telemedicine to educate people in rural areas, to educate parents of obese children in how they should change their eating habits.
Crane: For people living in remote areas of the country who donít have access to healthcare, Professor Shannon says telemedicine can deliver quality medical care. He spoke at the National Library of Medicine as part of the History of Medicine Division Seminar. For more information on telemedicine, visit nlm.nih.gov. This is Kristine Crane at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.