Telemedicine - Essay Example

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Telemedicine, or Tele-health as it is now called, is broadly defined as the use of telecommunication technology to provide health care services at distance from the caregiver. Telemedicine was initially designed with radiology and psychiatry services in mind in the 1960s…
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Telemedicine
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Download file to see previous pages (Loane et. all 2001) Telemedicine consultations typically involve consulting provider at one site, and the patient at another. For many consultations, the patient is accompanied by health professional, often nurse or mid-level provider, who presents the patient to the consultant. Stethoscopes, otoscopes, hand-held cameras, and other medical peripheral devices enhance the ability of the consulting provider to examine patients and recommend treatment during Tele-consultations. Document cameras and features such as remote camera control and white boarding make it possible for health professionals, educators, researchers, and administrators to easily share documents and other images between sites. Typically, videoconferencing has been delivered via telecommunication lines utilizing bandwidth of 384 kilobits per second (kbps), equivalent to 1/4 T1 line or 3 ISDN lines. Although less than broadcast quality, image quality is nonetheless considered adequate for the majority of face-to-face encounters. In general, the higher the bandwidth used, the clearer the picture. With less bandwidth, picture quality deteriorates and the system responds more slowly to the participants' movements, resulting in jerkier, fuzzier image. Still images, however, can be captured and transmitted clearly at low bandwidth. As technology has improved, many telemedicine programs have begun experimenting with lower bandwidth solutions. (Woods et. all 2000) It is becoming more common for some telemedicine applications, such as mental health consultations, to be delivered over ISDN at 128 kbps. Very low bandwidth video, so called Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS)-based video, which uses standard analogue phone lines, is being widely implemented in Tele-home health applications. At the beginning of the 1990s, videoconferencing equipment was expensive, cumbersome, and built around proprietary standards. By the end of the decade, the cost of roll-about room videoconferencing system dropped from roughly $60,000 to less than $10,000, and the cost continues to fall. Today, POTS based video units can be purchased for $300-$500. Other videoconferencing solutions such as set-top units, portable, and desktop systems fall into price range between $1,000 and $5,000. (Riley et. all 2003)
Types of accessible systems
The majority of the accessible telemedicine systems is clearly "low tech" and slow. Presently, most of the teleconferencing is reliant on communication via usual phone line, T-1 line ( 24-channel, high-capacity circuit for data, voice, and video transmission), or in unusual cases an OC3 fibre optic cable connection ( 243-channel, high-powered fibre optic circuit for data, voice, and video broadcast). Sadly, the T-1 communications connection is insufficient for high-resolution, real-time clinical interactions. conventional telephone line and modem provide data transmission at maximum rate of 64 kb/sec. T-1 line will provide maximum data transmission rates of from 1.5 to 2.0 megabytes (Mb) per second, and fibre-optic OC3 line is able of supporting rates of up to 155 Mb/sec under optimal circumstances. Unfortunately, these rates of data transmission are rarely achieved in custom daily use. (Taylor et. all 2003) good example of the problems intrinsic with present telemedicine syst ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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