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Apr 17, 2012.
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Added on 17 Apr 2012
Last updated on 17 Apr 2012
Authors: By Joaquin Blaya, PhD, Marie Connelly, and Sophie Beauvais
Telemedicine projects range from an e-mail link with a digital image to high-resolution video calls. Telemedicine has been shown to be feasible in low-resource settings (Wooton, 2010) and worldwide systematic reviews in 2001 and 2006 have shown telemedicine projects are frequently evaluated in resource poor settings.
GHDonline’s Health IT community organized an Expert Panel to discuss what has been learned in telemedicine, its benefits, and what existing projects or services are available for organizations and individuals to participate in.
- Telemedicine answers clear and important needs of health care professionals by providing continuing medical education, facilitating access to expert advice, and enabling task-shifting and decentralization of diagnostic tools.
- Telemedicine projects are more likely to attain long-term success when institutional anchoring (top-down approach) and routine use by professionals (bottom-up approach) are working simultaneously.
- A multi-lateral approach that promotes South-South collaboration enables more relevant tele-expertise, better adapted to the reality of low resource and isolated settings. It also enables the emergence of innovative processes and tools that leverage existing infrastructure. Centers of excellence in-country can also provide long-term sustainability for telemedicine projects.
- The high cost of Internet connections in low resource settings necessitates developing customized and finely-tuned software, as commercial solutions are rarely designed for these infrastructures.
- There is some concern that the absence of quantitative data regarding health outcomes for telemedicine projects may limit their adoption, as funding may be directed towards interventions which have proven improved outcomes and cost-effectiveness. There has recently been a call to action to address these concerns.
- There are several existing telemedicine networks supporting health workers in resource limited settings:
- The RAFT network provides educational and training resources from experienced clinicians.
- The Swinfen Charitable Trust provides a free, secure web-based messaging system that enables physicians in low resource settings to submit referrals and obtain advice from a panel of more than 500 specialists around the world.
- CampusMedicus provides a “store and forward” platform for physicians to exchange knowledge, diagnoses, documents and images. It can also be used for live video conferences and to view live video footage from microscopes and other devices.
- Each of these networks requires registration and confirmation that those providing advice are certified health professionals.
- Participants in the panel agree there is a need to connect these existing networks to improve opportunities for collaboration.
- Wootton, Richard, and Laurent Bonnardot. “In What Circumstances Is Telemedicine Appropriate in the Developing World?” JRSM Short Reports 1, no. 5 (2010): 37.
- Roine, R., A. Ohinmaa, and D. Hailey. “Assessing Telemedicine: a Systematic Review of the Literature.” Cmaj 165 (2001): 765–71.
- Hersh, W. R., D. H. Hickam, S. M. Severance, T. L. Dana, K. Pyle Krages, and M. Helfand. “Diagnosis, Access and Outcomes: Update of a Systematic Review of Telemedicine Services.” J Telemed Telecare 12 Suppl 2 (2006): S3–31. (Paid Access)
- Wootton, R., K. Youngberry, P. Swinfen, and R. Swinfen. “Prospective Case Review of a Global E-health System for Doctors in Developing Countries.” J Telemed Telecare 10 Suppl 1 (2004): 94–6. (Paid Access)
- Vassallo, D J, P Swinfen, R Swinfen, and R Wootton. “Experience with a Low-cost Telemedicine System in Three Developing Countries.” Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare 7 Suppl 1 (2001): 56–58. (Paid Access)
- Bagayoko, C O, A Anne, M Fieschi, and A Geissbuhler. “Can ICTs Contribute to the Efficiency and Provide Equitable Access to the Health Care System in Sub-Saharan Africa? The Mali Experience.” Yearbook of Medical Informatics 6, no. 1 (2011): 33–38. (Paid Access)
- Geissbuhler, A., O. Ly, C. Lovis, and J. F. L’Haire. “Telemedicine in Western Africa: Lessons Learned from a Pilot Project in Mali, Perspectives and Recommendations.” AMIA Annu Symp Proc (2003): 249–53.
- Bagayoko, Cheick Oumar, Henning Müller, and Antoine Geissbuhler. “Assessment of Internet-based Tele-medicine in Africa (the RAFT Project).” Computerized Medical Imaging and Graphics: The Official Journal of the Computerized Medical Imaging Society 30, no. 6–7 (October 2006): 407–416.
- Black AD, Car J, Pagliari C, Anandan C, Cresswell K, et al. (2011) "The Impact of eHealth on the Quality and Safety of Health Care: A Systematic Overview." PloS Med 8(1)
- Wootton, Richard, and Suzanne T McGoey. “Who Shall Coordinate the Coordinators? Facilitating the Work of Telemedicine Networks Which Provide Humanitarian Services.” Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare 18, no. 2 (2012): 63–65.
Enrich the GHDonline Knowledge Base
Please consider replying to this discussion with the following information
- Additional examples of telemedicine networks that support health care workers in low resource settings
- Details of telemedicine projects you have been involved in implementing, or used in clinical settings
- Suggestions or systems to facilitate working in a telemedicine project
Download: 04_17_12_Telemedicine_Projects.pdf (133.3 KB)