Telemedicine (also referred to as “telehealth” or “e-health”) allows healthcare professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients in remote locations using telecommunications technology. It helps eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to medical services especially in distant rural communities.
For over 50 years, telemedicine has proven to save time, save money and, most importantly, save lives. Its impact on various applications worldwide is incredible. However, based on several surveys conducted its found that telemedicine awareness is low. It was found in a survey conducted by a consumer health engagement company named Healthmine that 41% of consumers have never even heard of telemedicine. This survey was conducted on a total of 1200 consumers of different age groups. In the survey the consumers were asked two main questions: one being whether they would opt for telemedicine if made available in alternative to traditional doctor visits and the other being whether they understood when it was best to use telemedicine. Overall, 45 percent of respondents said they would use telemedicine if it was offered, 16 percent said they wouldn’t, and 39 percent weren’t sure. Forty-three percent of total respondents said they knew when it was best to use telemedicine, 16 percent said they didn’t, and 41 percent said they hadn’t heard of telemedicine. Another 500 person survey conducted by TechnologyAdvice found that 35 % of consumers would choose a virtual visit over an in person one. But it also found that 75 percent would not trust the diagnosis a doctor made over a video visit.
A global survey was conducted on ehealth examining four fields of telemedicine : teleradiology, telepathology, teledermatology and tele psychiatry. The key findings were that teleradiology has the highest rate of established service provision across the four fields of telemedicine surveyed. And also that the provision of telemedicine is far less progressed in middle and low income countries compared to high income countries. Another survey was done on around 143 doctors from different hospitals in India to collect awareness and attitude to telemedicine. Most doctors felt that telemedicine was important and their opinions were similar in all age groups. A total of 86 doctors had used telemedicine. In order to assist in future utilisation of telemedicine proper hospital training programmes should be organized for all doctors. Further awareness programmes are also required for patients.