Sustainable Telemedicine - Introduction
The task force was first mentioned and initiated at the Annual General Meeting October 2006 in order to support the implementation of "Sustainable Telemedicine" services.
Telemedicine services provide means to improve accessibility to high quality health care in case of shortage of appropriate health professionals or the necessary medical expertise or skills at the site of the patient.
Telemedicine hence covers a broad spectrum of services such as teleconsultation, second opinion, telehomecare and teletraining and builds on technologies such as video-conferencing supported by the exchange of medical images and medical records as well as remote monitoring.
Communication infrastructure include ordinary telephone land-lines, internet connections of various speeds and in many instances also satellite links to enable health care in remote and isolated areas.
While telemedicine services have been successfully piloted and are to some extent in routine use in various countries, there are still not widely used. Possible reasons include
- the lack of appropriate and ready to use interoperable communication infrastructures,
- unproven Return on Investments (RoI) for some scenarios in question,
- unclear or not supportive legal and/or social security environment
- and also simply lack of awareness by the local, regional, national competent authorities.