Telemedicine involves the use of electronic communications to enable health care providers at different locations to share individual patient medical information for the purpose of improving patient care. Providers may include primary care practitioners, specialists, and/or subspecialists. The information may be used for diagnosis, therapy, follow‐up and/or education, and may include any of the following:
- Patient medical records
- Medical images
- Live two‐way audio and video
- Output data from medical devices and sound and video files
Electronic systems used will incorporate network and software security protocols to protect the confidentiality of patient identification and imaging data and will include measures to safeguard the data and to ensure its integrity against intentional or unintentional corruption.
- Improved access to medical care by enabling a patient to remain in his/her office (or at a remote site) while the physician obtains test results and consults from healthcare practitioners at distant/other sites.
- More efficient medical evaluation and management.
- Obtaining expertise of a distant specialist.
As with any medical procedure, there are potential risks associated with the use of telemedicine. These risks include, but may not be limited to:
- In rare cases, information transmitted may not be sufficient (e.g. poor resolution of images) to allow for appropriate medical decision making by the physician and consultant(s);
- Delays in medical evaluation and treatment could occur due to deficiencies or failures of the equipment;
- In very rare instances, security protocols could fail, causing a breach of privacy of personal medical information;
- In rare cases, a lack of access to complete medical records may result in adverse drug interactions or allergic reaction or other judgment error;