TelemedicineTelemedicine can deliver health–care services, where distance may be the critical factor. The health care professionals by using information and communication technologies, can now access or exchange information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries. The new age concept also provides for the continuing medical education among health care providers as well as allows for research and evaluation, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities.
Telehealth is a sub–concept of Telemedicine and refers to ‘The use of telecommunication technologies to make health and related services more accessible to health care consumers and providers in rural, or otherwise areas with underprivileged health–care resources’.
More concisely, Telehealth services aim at maintaining the ‘Wellness’ of society or improving the general health of society. The common element in both definitions is the use of telecommunications. Telehealth can be distinguished from telemedicine in the sense that the former is the provision of a service to those who are at a distance from the service provider, but who are not necessarily ill or wounded, who are already well and want to stay that way by following healthy practices of diet, nutrition, exercise etc, and by taking steps to avoid illness and disease, for example, in regard to sanitation. Telemedicine can be regarded as an example of the use of ‘Telematics for health’. ‘Telematics for health’, however, has a broader scope since it also includes informatics or information technology and aims at improving the efficiency of health–care, even within a single hospital or health administration.
Telemedicine and World Wide Web
With the intensification of computer literacy, more and more people are interacting with each other, by using a common shared medium in search of information and resources. Internet access serves as the prime approach to information–sharing across two different ends of the world with the use of computer terminals. The Web can serve as an effective and economic medium for the application of telemedicinal activities. Most of the Medical Universities and Colleges can link up databases and critical information on a secure server, which can be accessed by health professionals world wide for analytical consultation. The use of Web also reduces the time involved in transfer of information (records of patients or reports of routine health analysis) either from one department in the hospital to another or between two doctors. Similar kinds of facilities are in use by several medical authorities in the west.