by November 5, 2002 0 comments

Telemedicine is delivering medical diagnosis and treatment over long distances, either in real time (live) or store and forward modes. In real time, a patient consults the doctor over a teleconferencing system, while the patient’s data is collected and transmitted to the consulting doctor. The data transmitted includes the patient’s medical history. In store and forward, clinical data is collected, stored and later forwarded for interpretation. So, the patient and doctor are not required to be available at the same time. Computing systems used here have to capture and store still or moving digital images, audio and text. 

What technology do such techniques require? A secure (encrypted) telecommunications network (high bandwidth ISDN or satellite connections), network-conferencing systems, codecs (to compress very large, moving digital images), storage devices and database-management software all come into play to create a
stable and recurring telemedicine system.

Most telemedicine units are PC based, capable of transferring digital images over an ISDN-based WAN or LAN. High-quality codecs and audio systems are important as there can be a lag between video and audio synchronization.

There are also room-based telemedicine systems with one or two large screens. They may also have white-boarding features and scanner, printer and VCR

In India, telemedicine has great scope, particularly given that the experts are in cities, where patients from far away towns and villages will have difficulty in accessing them. What started off as a social experiment by a few government hospitals is slowly drawing the attention of larger private hospital networks also.

Juhi Bhambal

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