Bird's-eye view on telemedicine as a dynamic process in present-day health care

London 17 February 1999 Last December, the Virtual Medical Worlds Magazine announced the publication of European Telemedicine 1998/99. This reference study on the present state within Europe of the medical art as practised at a distance, is now available. The book has been conceived as a guided tour which in six parts highlights the different aspects, involved with telemedicine. Notwithstanding the great potential the innovative approach of telecare has in store, there still exists an embarrassing lack of evidence for its actual cost-effectiveness. Professor Richard Wootton, consultant editor of the study, therefore makes an ardent plea to emphasize the need for proper research and more important still, for proper research funding.

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Last December, the Virtual Medical Worlds Magazine announced the publication of European Telemedicine 1998/99. This reference study on the present state within Europe of the medical art as practised at a distance, is now available. The book has been conceived as a guided tour which in six parts highlights the different aspects, involved with telemedicine. Notwithstanding the great potential the innovative approach of telecare has in store, there still exists an embarrassing lack of evidence for its actual cost-effectiveness. Professor Richard Wootton, consultant editor of the study, therefore makes an ardent plea to emphasize the need for proper research and more important still, for proper research funding.

By means of introduction, the reader is offered a short historical and global perspective with regard to telemedicine as well as an unequivocal definition and an insight into the current status of research. The theoretical approach refers to structural issues related to policy, legislation, economics, evaluation, assessment and research whereas the technical chapter handles the various telecommunications options, constituting an essential element of underlying technology. The major part of the study is entirely reserved to the description of telemedicine, as applied in practical cases for various medical specialities. Training in telemedicine and the use of telematics for continuing medical education is separately being focused from several angles. A modest glance is cast into the future of telemedicine with articles on telesurgery and the challenging chase for relevant information.

Among the many authors having contributed to European Telemedicine 1998/99, there are several medical experts from university hospitals, located in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Five articles offer an outlook on telemedicine performed on a global scale with examples from the United States, Australia, the Pacific Rim, Asia, and the developing countries. The technological facets of telemedicine are treated by major representatives from the telecommunications and health care industry. As such, the reader receives a clear picture of the direction towards which telemedical workers in the field are heading in Europe as well as in the rest of the world.

The study provides a wealth of evidence for the innumerable advantages of telemedicine applications ranging from daily clinical routine over mobile and home care, to its use in difficult circumstances, such as in isolated regions or hard to reach places like at sea. One crucial principle prevails in all these practical case studies, a creed that should be kept in mind by everyone who is responsible for the future viability of computerized health care. Far more than just a matter of advanced technical solutions or high tech equipment, telemedicine constitutes a demanding process. Its ultimate success depends on the willingness of health care providers to apply organizational changes in the overall health service structure.

Needless to stress that European Telemedicine 1998/99 is truly a "must have" for government representatives within the different European Health Ministries, responsible for project funding, workers in the regional health care facilities, hospital managers as well as heads of medical departments, physicians and nurses, but also Information Technology and network managers, academic staff, and European research project leaders.

  • EUROPEAN TELEMEDICINE 1998/99
  • Consultant Editor: Professor Richard Wootton, Director of the Institute of Telemedicine and Telecare, Queen's University, Belfast, UK
  • Published by Kensington Publications Ltd., in conjunction with the European Health Telematics Observatory and the Royal Society of Medicine
  • 1999 - 182 p. - soft cover
  • Available for purchase at £65.00 + postage from Karine Köng, Marketing Executive for Kensington Publications Ltd.
    Tel: +44-171-717-1141 - Fax: +44-171-717-1000


Leslie Versweyveld

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