Telemedicine is most beneficial for populations living in isolated communities and remote regions and is currently being applied in virtually all medical domains. Specialties that use telemedicine often use a "tele-" prefix; for example, telemedicine as applied by radiologists is called Teleradiology. Similarly telemedicine as applied by cardiologists is termed as telecardiology, etc.
Telemedicine is also useful as a communication tool between a general practitioner and a specialist available at a remote location.
The first interactive Telemedicine system, operating over standard telephone lines, for remotely diagnosing and treating patients requiring cardiac resuscitation (defibrillation) was developed and marketed by MedPhone Corporation in 1989. A year latter the company introduced a mobile cellular version, the MDphone. Twelve hospitals in the U.S. served as receiving and treatment centers. (See: Telecommunications, Concepts, Development, and Management, Second Edition, pages 280-282, W. John Blyth, Glencoe/McCgraw-Hill Company,1990)
Monitoring a patient at home using known devices like blood pressure monitors and transferring the information to a caregiver is a fast growing emerging service. These remote monitoring solutions have a focus on current high morbidity chronic diseases and are mainly deployed for the First World. In developing countries a new way of practicing telemedicine is emerging better known as Primary Remote Diagnostic Visits whereby a doctor uses devices to remotely examine and treat a patient. This new technology and principle of practicing medicine holds big promises to solving major health care delivery problems in for instance Southern Africa because Primary Remote Diagnostic Consultations not only monitors an already diagnosed chronic disease, but has the promise to diagnosing and managing the diseases a patient will typically visit a general practitioner for.
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