Telemedicine began from the humble beginnings of the first telephone call from Alexander Graham Bell to his associate, Watson. These systems already have been used for educational programs, consultative care, image transfer, second opinions, and direct acute patient care. Most of the original programs failed because of several reasons, primarily because of lack of funding when a grant ended. The major lesson of these programs is that a solid business plan is needed initially for long-term survival. The reliability of telemedical examinations has been demonstrated superficially, but more conclusive work in this area is needed. Studies that evaluate clinical, financial, and satisfaction outcomes are required simultaneously. Further integration of medical informatics into telemedicine systems is needed before these systems can achieve more acceptance. Twenty years ago, few people predicted this technologic revolution. Innovations arise almost daily. The future seems promising for telemedical systems, but much work is required. Partnerships with industry must move beyond niche projects, and regulatory and medicolegal issues must be resolved. Anesthesiologists can expect their practice to be affected directly by technology, and should embrace it, evaluate it, and help lead its use in this millennium.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine