From Academic Kids

Telemedicine is composed of the Greek word τελε (tele) meaning 'far', and medicine. It is therefore the delivery of medicine at a distance. A more extensive definition is that it is the use of modern telecommunication and information technologies for the provision of clinical care to individuals located at a distance and to the transmission of information to provide that care.

In its early manifestations, African villagers used smoke signals to warn people to stay away from the village in case of serious disease. In the early 1900s, people living in remote areas in Australia used two-way radios, powered by a dynamo driven by a set of bicycle pedals, to communicate with the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

The terms e-health and tele-health are at times interchanged with telemedicine.

There are two basic forms of telemedicine in its current implementation: live, and store-and-forward. There is of course more to telemedicine, but this simplistic application is fast becoming ubiquitous.

Live telemedicine could be a telephone call, but more typically refers to a videoconference link. This requires the presence of both parties at the same time and a high-bandwidth, low-latency connection. At a minimum audio and video are involved, with remote tactile support sometimes also being present.

Store-and-forward telemedicine involves acquiring data, images and/or video and transmitting this material 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, and the bandwidth of the connection need not be high. Latency is also not a problem.

Telemedicine is most useful when patients are extremely isolated (such as overwintering in Antarctica, remote communities in Australia, Africa and Alaska) or where specialist services are in very high demand.

Medical specialties using telemedicine usually rely a great deal on images (still or moving) in the service delivery - assessment, diagnosis and management. Radiology services have been delivered by telemedicine for many years. Psychiatry, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, dermatology and pathology are more recent users. Home care is often delivered by telemedicine.

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