Telemedicine is defined globally by the World Health Organization as the delivery of healthcare services at a distance using electronic means for “ the diagnosis of treatment , and prevention of disease and injuries, research an evaluation, education of health care providers “ So care on a distance using computers, cellphones or other electronic devices , the virtual doctor on call. Information and communication technologies (ICT’s) have great potential to address challenges faced by both developed and developing countries . Telehealth services overcomes geographical barriers, medical expertise can be used delivering care and advice over big distances.
The item I address today is video-consultation. Nowadays health care professionals and patients are getting more and mor familiar with video-consultation so in my perception this form of communication between patients and doctors will become the new standard. During medical consultation at the out-patient clinic most of the times there is no physical examination necessary , except if there is a reason for of course .
So by using audio-video consultation the patient can stay at home, no need for transportation or use family members who have to bring the patient to the hospital ( and probably have to take a day off from work ) If during the video-consultation the doctor concludes , because of the anamnesis of the patient , that physical examination is necessary , the patient can be asked to come to the hospital and still make an appointment.
Also the on-line video consultation can be stored in certain Electronic Patient Records and special attention should be paid at patient privacy regulations and data privacy. But even when the current technology is available , the implementation of Telemedicine in clinical practice faces regulatory and reimbursement barriers. With regards to the reimbursement : in the Netherlands fortunately the health care insurance companies are increasingly facilitating the use of on-line video consultation and starting to embrace increasingly Telemedicine.