Telemedicine: Reviewing the Past, Looking Toward the Future
Erika, a diabetic patient, has trouble managing her glucose levels and lives 120 miles away from a medical specialist. Through the use of a handheld mobile device, she can electronically submit her sugar levels to a nurse practitioner at another location to manage her condition. Genevieve, an elderly cancer patient, lives in a rural community 300 miles away from her oncologist. In her condition, driving 5 hours to the cancer center would be exhausting, and she likely would not routinely make her visits. Over Interactive Tele-Video (ITV) augmented with a digital stethoscope, she can drive across town in 10 minutes and have a teleconsultation. Matthew gets in a serious car accident on his way to work. The emergency physician is able to access vital patient information from Matthew‘s online health record through a health information exchange to provide him with the best care possible. These scenarios are all examples of what is commonly referred to as telemedicine. This chapter will discuss telemedicine’s past, present, and future beginning with an overview of telemedicine followed by a discussion of advantages and barriers. Then, methodological challenges will be addressed. Finally, opportunities for communication scholars will be highlighted.