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Types of Telemedicine

Posted on:3/24/2006
Telemedicine is practised on the basis of two concepts: real time (synchronous) and store-and-forward (asynchronous).



Telemedicine is practised on the basis of two concepts: real time (synchronous) and store-and-forward (asynchronous).

Real time telemedicine could be as simple as a telephone call or as complex as robotic surgery. It requires the presence of both parties at the same time and a communications link between them that allows a real-time interaction to take place. Video-conferencing equipment is one of the most common forms of technologies used in synchronous telemedicine. There are also peripheral devices which can be attached to computers or the video-conferencing equipment which can aid in an interactive examination. For instance, an otoscope allows a physician to 'see' inside a patient's ear; a stethoscope allows the consulting physician to hear the patient's heartbeat. Medical specialties conducive to this kind of consultation include psychiatry, internal medicine, rehabilitation, cardiology, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology and neurology.

Store-and-forward telemedicine involves acquiring medical data (like medical images, bio-signals etc) and then transmitting this data to a doctor or medical specialist at a convenient time for assessment offline. It does not require the presence of both parties at the same time. Dermatology, radiology, and pathology are common specialties that are condusive to asynchronous telemedicine.

Telemedicine is most beneficial for populations living in isolated communities and remote regions and is currently being applied in virtually all medical domains. Specialties that use telemedicine often use a "tele-" prefix; for example, telemedicine as applied by radiologists is called Teleradiology. Similarly telemedicine as applied by cardiologists is termed as telecardiology, etc.

Telemedicine is also useful as a communication tool between a General Practitioner and a Specialist available at a remote location.

-- What is possible in Telemedicine & What is not possible --

Very broadly speaking, the three major components of a Doctor Patient interaction inside a clinic are 1] History Taking 2] Interrogation 3] Physical Examination

Whereas, asynchronous telemedicine is useful for "History Taking" and to some extent for "Interrogation", Physical Examination can not be carried out in an asynchronous mode.

Even Synchronous telemedicine can support Physical Examination to some extent, therefore largely, Telemedicine will remain a tool for complementing Doctor Patient In-Person Examination and not an alternative.


 


  
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