Telemedicine is defined as the provision of medicine from a distance. Its implementation is deployed via information technology and communication protocols. Telemedicine may be as simple as two professionals discussing a case by telephone to the use of advanced communications and information technology for consultations, diagnostics and even surgeries done remotely and in real time. Advanced but personal Telemedicine technology is used in modern Stethoscopes crafted by 3M-Littmann which can pickup the sounds digitally, reduce the ambient noise and upload the digital file to private cloud for future analysis or reference. Previously we talked about Network Protocol, Internet Protocol Suite, Semantic Web etcetera. All of these are actually important relating to Telemedicine. The term “e-health” is more appropriate, covering a wider field of action.
Telemedicine includes both the diagnosis and treatment parts, as well as the education part. It is a technological resource that enables the optimization of health care services, saving time and money and providing access to remote areas to have specialist care. Another utility provided by the use of medical data transmission on suitable networks is education, where medical and nursing students can learn semiology remotely, supported by their teacher and with the presence of the patient. Thus we can define the following services that telemedicine provides:
- Telediagnosis: Remote diagnosis and sometimes recommendation, is the technique that causes the greatest impact, given the multiple benefits with presents and extensive use of technology. It assess or assist in the medical evaluation of a patient from a hospital that is distant, using telecommunications to carry out this action.
- Teleconference: Through videoconferencing, it is feasible to convene a meeting of experts who are in different locations (with no geographical boundaries), to discuss different situations, the only limit is in the technology and telecommunications resources.
- Storing digital data : This involves the implementation of digital backup of documents such as medical records (electronic clinical documents, CDA HL7 ), radiology films or tests, streamline internal processes and reduce physical storage space. Also this opens possibilities of obtaining diagnoses than real time via email or publication of test results via the web to be viewed by patients.
- Distance classes (E-learning): The academic use of medical video conferencing, using the same technology, a teacher can teach a group or several groups of students who are distant.
- Medical meetings for second opinions other than Teleconference
- Telesurgery, although a part of Telediagnosis; is considered separately for the ability to perform surgery from a distant place
Operation of a Telemedicine System
A telemedicine system, as defined, is a complementary system for medical activities. Currently, it is a mean for support; telecommunications and computer science conglomerating, because what we find today in this emerging area needed assets for the systems are systems which capable of transmitting audio, video, images and documents using different sets of telecommunications and protocols.
In the market, there are several companies, Open Source / Free Organizations who have dedicated the time and resources to the development of tools capable of supporting remote medical work, either through the creation of a new product line or through establishing a standard dedicated exclusively to this segment, which by the way is quite unique. A telemedicine system basically operates in the following way :
- There is a smaller hospital that has a shortage of professionals in (as) area (s) specific (s), the center will be assisted by one of greater magnitude, which have specialists and the time required for patient care in a remote fashion, who will be located physically in the city where the center is smaller.
- These brings benefits of saving time and money for thr patients and improve the management of most remote health centers.
For a system of this kind work well, the system must have the following elements :
- Equipment capable of communicating (preferably video ).
- Connection protocol (satellite, Internet, etcetera).
- Standards and protocols for interoperability of information ( HL7 and DICOM ), Open Source or Free Protocols are preferred.
- The hospital or clinic of support that must manage resources (infrastructure, time and especially specialists) to provide medical services.
- Regarding telemedicine, teleconferencing and distance learning, the system should be similar to that of remote diagnosis, remaining imperative to the ability to stream a video.
- Telemedicine in the form of digital storage media, is presented as a way to support the work of doctors in order to obtain information quickly and efficiently, allowing manipulation of it to date records and require if necessary, to obtain a second opinion in a more easy and expeditious way. Beside keeping digital records, it involves the ability to handle larger volumes of information in less space Semantically, allowing streamlining internal processes, delivering results in an improvement in service management .
- Telesurgery is the ability for a surgeon to perform surgery on a patient remotely over secured connection and possibly cached next steps.
Telemedicine in Current Form
Telemedicine, which is practically a part of Communication Protocols itself is not dependent on Medical Science to be deployed but demands efficient and upgraded knowledge of the doctors and flexible overall mentality to co-operate with the developers. Worst, in many newly industrialized countries, medical transcription is shown as “Telemedicine”, which definitely nothing but digitizing analog data and sending over common http or https protocol. Schema.org has and is standardizing the semantics for proper hierarchal usage.
Parts of Surgical Robotics has been discussed through various articles on this website and can be read by using the search function.