Benefits of Telemedicine for Rural Health

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Telemedicine and rural health

Executive summary

This report examines the benefits of telemedicine for people living in rural areas. Advances in technology and globalization have changed the way things are done in the health sector. Telemedicine has greatly helped to ensure that people are able to get medical services from a distance. Telemedicine has enabled people to reduce medical costs, attend to emergencies within a short time, monitor chronic diseases, and obtain treatment at any time of the day. Though telemedicine has not been widely accepted, there appears to be an upward trend in terms of public opinion. Nevertheless, addressing the challenges that hinder adoption of telemedicine is important. This is because telemedicine will create opportunities that will help to promote growth and development. Training and education are important to ensure that telemedicine achieves success. All stakeholders should play a role in ensuring that telemedicine achieves success.

Table of Contents

Executive summary

Introduction

Background

Discussion

Need for Telemedicine

Perceptions of the Benefits of Telemedicine in Rural Areas

Advantages of Telemedicine in Rural Areas

Disadvantages or Challenges of Telemedicine in Rural Areas

Future Trends

Conclusion

Reference

Introduction

With advances in technology, the world has become a global village where technology has become integrated into nearly every sector (Mars, 2013). Adopting telemedicine seemed difficult in the beginning, but with the passage of time and advances in technology, it is clearly possible. Notably, people now are more aware of telemedicine than ever before. Telemedicine has evolved over the decades and has become an important part of society. Telemedicine was first embraced by doctors looking to share information amongst themselves. This was later expanded to patients in certain locations. Its success motivated those in the health sector to use it to reach patients in remote places. The introduction of telemedicine has been beneficial, especially to people from remote or rural where specialists are not readily available. The ability to share information and images has promoted better health outcomes for those unable to reach a medical professional (Mars, 2013). Additionally, telemedicine has significantly reduced the cost of accessing medical services while ensuring that patients are connected to specialists or doctors. Traditionally, doctors would conduct home visits to assess the state of their patients’ health (EE, Farr & Ben Raimer, 2011). This was costly and tiresome since doctors were forced to travel long distances. In situations where doctors could not make home visits, patients were required to travel to medical centers. Those who had no money were forced to stay home and hope the problem would resolve on its own, which was dangerous for their health.

The rise of the internet has no doubt brought a lot of changes to telemedicine. These improvements to the delivery of telemedicine services have made it an important technique for offering medical services (Wamala & Augustine, 2013). Smart devices capable of transmitting videos have enabled doctors to get information and treat their patients effectively. The use of telemedicine has enabled major achievements in the health sector (EE, Farr & Ben Raimer, 2011). Though governments have been working hard to ensure that resources are distributed equally, medical access is still not quite universally available. Yet, telemedicine has reduced the gap in services and enabled healthcare professional to manage chronic diseases and assist underserved communities. Currently, life expectancy is high which means the aging population is on the increase. The demand for the healthcare workforce is therefore increasing, which makes telemedicine the most appropriate way to ensure that all people are assisted (Wamala & Augustine, 2013). With most doctors and specialists work and reside in urban centers, people living in rural areas are disadvantaged. Finding an appropriate way to assist these people is critically important. Telemedicine has played a key role in ensuring that all people irrespective of their location and status are able to access medical services.

Theoretically, the government should ensure that healthcare facilities are located everywhere. This has, however, not been the case due to geographical and economic barriers (Myrvang & Rosenlund, 2007). Identifying a way or technique of ensuring that people have access to medical services from the comfort of their homes is important. Research has shown that telemedicine has played an important role in eliminating barriers that have been hindering people from accessing affordable medical services. This report will examine the use of telemedicine in rural areas with the aim of identifying the challenges and benefits of this technique (Myrvang & Rosenlund, 2007). Though many countries have adopted telemedicine, understanding the challenges and benefits of this technique will enable more governments and professionals to embrace this technique. Notably, the fact that many people have embraced the use of smartphones and the internet makes this technique appropriate.

Background

Rural areas face numerous challenges when it comes to accessing healthcare services, including small and dispersed population and limited or poor road infrastructure (Myrvang & Rosenlund, 2007). Though governments have tried hard to ensure that essential services are brought closer to people, this has not been achieved effectively due to economic and geographical factors. In some areas, people are forced to travel long distances to reach a hospital or health facility. Also, rural areas often have a shortage of qualified health workers. Moreover, it is difficult to recruit and train healthcare workers to rural areas due to geographical barriers and availability of willing persons (Myrvang & Rosenlund, 2007). Increasingly, individuals with higher education backgrounds move to urban centers in search of white collar jobs leaving the aged and uneducated in rural areas. Many educated people report that they are unwilling to work in the rural areas, a fact which further complicates the issue. An increase in the number of the elderly persons has strained the human resources even more since the ratio of patients to healthcare providers is higher (Whitacre, 2011). Research has shown that there are many health disparities between people living in rural areas and those living in urban centers. These various health disparities have ultimately resulted in lower life expectancy in rural areas.

Governments have worked hard to ensure that all citizens are treated equally without much success. The Norwegian government, for example, has been working hard to come up with policies to ensure that all people can obtain medical services (Myrvang & Rosenlund, 2007). Canada has come up with policies that make healthcare services free and mandatory (Hill, 2014). Nearly, all governments across the world have in one way or another worked to ensure that life expectancy is high. It is worthwhile noting, however, that these efforts have achieved very little since rural areas have always been treated like “second class” citizens in nearly every country. Telemedicine has been seen as a remedy to help rural areas to solve numerous health problems (Field, 1996). Interest in using telemedicine to deal with health problems has been growing in recent years. The telephone has been commonly used over the years to monitor patients and do consultation. Use of the internet has challenged policymakers and researchers to come up with other ways of ensuring that patients are connected to the health facilities. More research needs to be done to clarify the importance of telemedicine in achieving equity in the delivery of healthcare services. Researchers have cited lack of clear understanding of the function of telemedicine as a barrier to telemedicine implementation. Creating awareness is therefore important to ensure that the healthcare sector and the broader public can embrace this technique (Field, 1996).

Research on the benefits of telemedicine in rural areas is particularly important for many reasons:

  • It will enable the government and policymakers to make informed decisions on how telemedicine can be used effectively and efficiently. Specifically, policymakers and the government will be able to ensure that the correct infrastructure is in place to create awareness and implement telemedicine.
  • Patients and healthcare professionals will be able to understand clearly the benefits of telemedicine consequently enabling them to embrace telemedicine.
  • The research will inform health managers on the benefits and future trends of telemedicine.
  • Enable those who are using or have invested in telemedicine to identify challenges associated with telemedicine consequently enabling them to find ways of improving telemedicine.

Telemedicine uses diverse technologies and applications and, as a result, research into telemedicine is important to promote debate on this topic (Ryu, 2012). Communication technologies such as computers, the Internet, and cell phones have revolutionized the way people communicate. It is important to note that communication technologies have been adopted across the world, even in underdeveloped or developing countries (Ryu, 2012). Developing countries have been efficient in adopting and using communication technologies. Examining the use of mobile money transfer shows that developing countries have effectively adopted this technology. According to World Health Organization (WHO), communication technologies can effectively be used to solve global health problems, especially in places where specialized health attention cannot be readily found (Ryu, 2012). WHO has found out that communication technology can enable countries to offer higher quality health services.

Telemedicine has not been widely accepted and used. As a result, evaluation and research on telemedicine will ensure that maximum benefits are derived from it (Ryu, 2012). There is a perception that telemedicine is expensive to implement. Identifying the benefits of telemedicine will enable stakeholders to examine whether the benefits derived from telemedicine are worth the cost of implementation. Notably, if the benefits will lead to a healthier society, the implementation of telemedicine will be justified (Ryu, 2012). Developing countries have struggled to eliminate the barriers preventing implementation of telemedicine. Primarily, the lack of infrastructure and the cost of telemedicine technologies have been major barriers to implementation. On the other hand, developed countries struggle with the legal issues of privacy and confidentiality of patients. This report will examine the benefits of telemedicine in rural areas with the aim of convincing stakeholders to come up with strategies to ensure that telemedicine is adopted (Ryu, 2012). This will ensure rural areas like their urban counterparts can access high-quality services.

Discussion

What is telemedicine? Telemedicine simply refers to the use of technology to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients at a distance. WHO has described telemedicine in a broader perspective as the provision of healthcare services from a distance by professional healthcare providers using information and communication technologies for the exchange of accurate information to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases (Ryu, 2012). This also includes the continuation of health worker training, research, monitoring, and evaluation. Telemedicine is an evolving field and, as a result, telemedicine responds and adapts to the emerging needs.

Advancements in technology and availability of information and communication technology have been the major drivers of telemedicine. Though telemedicine came into use in the 1960s, it has recently been widely accepted as a technique to solve health-related problems (Ryu, 2012). More research into the use of information and communication technology to improve performance in every sector has motivated the use of information and communication technology in the healthcare sector (Cuyler, 2012). The current technology coupled with the drop in the cost of information communication technology devices has greatly influenced the use of technology to improve performance and improve access.

The researchers together with health professionals have worked hard to come up with applications to aid in service delivery in the health sector. Healthcare organizations who have been championing for the provision of quality healthcare services have now embraced telemedicine (Cuyler, 2012). These organizations have come up with new laws and strategies to implement telemedicine and provide quality medical services. It is important to note that telemedicine is changing on a daily basis and, as a result, proper understanding is important to ensure that every health organization is up-to-date in terms of telemedicine technology. Use of the internet has significantly changed the way telemedicine is used. Organizations have introduced web-based application approaches to quickly and responsively deliver healthcare services. Advancements in technology have led to the development of telemedicine applications that are already changing the way health services are being accessed and delivered (Ryu, 2012).

Telemedicine applications are classified based on the timing of the information transmitted and the interaction between concerned persons. Store and forward or asynchronous type refers to the exchange of pre-recorded data between individuals at different times (Ryu, 2012). The other type of telemedicine application is real-time or synchronous, which requires concerned parties to be present for immediate exchange of information. Real-time or synchronous is currently the most commonly used across the world due to advancements in technology (Ryu, 2012). Real-time or synchronous allows individuals to communicate directly and seek answers to questions that would have otherwise taken longer. The two types of telemedicine nevertheless work in different settings and have been used to ensure that health services are delivered at a distance. Currently, most telemedicine applications focus on diagnosis and management. As a result, telemedicine has been appropriate in the management of the chronic diseases especially among the elderly. According to WHO, telemedicine will alter the way services are offered by moving healthcare services from health facilities to the home (Cuyler, 2012). In developing countries, telemedicine has been used to link health providers to patients.

Need for Telemedicine

Research has shown that telemedicine is the future of the healthcare yet little has been done to ensure that telemedicine is implemented (Hjelm, 2005). Discussion on the benefits of telemedicine has been going on for decades, yet countries and organizations have not come up with structures and strategies to ensure that telemedicine is fully operational. In advanced countries, citizens in urban centers have access to adequate health care, though they are backed by the technology. In developing countries and remote parts of developed countries, people have difficulty accessing healthcare services. As a result, response to emergencies is inefficient, and patients might even lose their lives (Hjelm, 2005). Rural areas in most cases have few hospitals with few specialized health professionals. People in rural areas cannot be cared for effectively, hence the need to find an alternative way of providing medical services. Sometimes people are referred to other health facilities, but this is time-consuming and can be dangerous for the life of the patient. Having a system in place to deal with emergencies from a distance is therefore important. Examining the effectiveness of telemedicine, fifty percent of the people in the United States of America use telemedicine as shown in the graph below (Guttman, 2018). This shows a sizable number of people are in need of health services from a distance.

More research should be done to ensure that stakeholders and the public are informed about the ways that health and technology align to deliver improved healthcare outcomes. This will ensure all—irrespective of the location and economic status—have access to quality medical services.

In developed countries like the United States of America, Australia, Japan, and Canada, the number of the aged population is high (Moffatt & Eley, 2010). These people need frequent and specialized attention that will be costly if a person is to travel to and from the hospital when the need arises. Most of these people lack the money to travel from their rural location to areas where hospitals are located. Rural areas in most cases are not organized to deal with diseases early or to manage coordination necessary to enable people in rural areas to get specialized attention.

Most countries have both private and public funding to subsidize health services in rural areas. The funding, however, has not been enough to cater to the health needs of those living in rural areas (Moffatt & Eley, 2010). Having a system in place to enable those living in rural areas to effectively access medical services is therefore important. The community’s needs as far as health is concerned will grow on a daily basis in rural areas. Most of the people in rural areas in developing countries are not insured. As a result, these people cannot effectively access medical services. When the situation worsens in most cases, these people seek help in emergency rooms at a point when it is too late (Moffatt & Eley, 2010). Many countries nonetheless have responded to challenges affecting rural areas by educating health professionals on how they can attend to this specific population and providing the necessary technology. This has no doubt changed the way medical services are offered, especially in rural areas. People have embraced technology, which has not only ensured that people are able to access medical services at any time, but it has also ensured that specific populations, like those in rural settings, are able to access affordable medical services (EE, Farr & Ben Raimer, 2011).

Healthcare challenges are not a problem of developing nations alone. Developed nations like the United States of America are also facing many of the same challenges. The state of Texas is one such example. The University of Texas Medical Branch has played an important role by starting the University of Texas Medical Branch telemedicine, which has been instrumental in assisting groups that lack services due to remote location or language barriers (EE, Farr & Ben Raimer, 2011). This idea has worked effectively to ensure that different minority groups can access affordable and appropriate medical services. The University of Texas Medical Branch telemedicine has spread across Texas and has proved to be the most effective and efficient way of offering medical services.

The University of Texas Medical Branch partnership with many organizations and institutions of higher learning has seen University of Texas Medical Branch assist people whose language barrier has been preventing them from accessing specialized medical services (EE, Farr & Ben Raimer, 2011). According to University of Texas Medical Branch, telemedicine has enabled people who would have otherwise not access specialized medical services to access medical services (EE, Farr & Ben Raimer, 2011). From the information from the University of Texas Medical Branch, people now appreciate telemedicine as a technique to obtain appropriate medical services. The figure below shows the number of people who have encountered or used telemedicine in Texas (EE, Farr & Ben Raimer, 2011).

University of Texas Medical Branch telemedicine has enabled healthcare professionals to more easily offer medical services. By reducing travel time, they are able to provide consultations and do their research. Telemedicine has also enabled communities to appreciate technology and learn more about the ways it can benefit their lives (EE, Farr & Ben Raimer, 2011).

Perceptions of the Benefits of Telemedicine in Rural Areas

Though telemedicine started out as an exclusive service for the educated or learned population, approximately fifty percent of the population across the world is now aware of telemedicine (Bradford, Caffery & Smith, 2015). People, however, have been reluctant to use telemedicine due to many reasons. Some people do not use telemedicine because they do not know its benefits while others do not see the need for using it. Some people are not even aware of telemedicine and, as a result, creating awareness is important (Bradford, Caffery & Smith, 2015). Many people have embraced technology, though they do not believe in using technology for health-related issues. Notably, many people are cautious when it comes to health issues. For telemedicine to achieve success, much needs to be done to ensure that people are aware of the benefits of using telemedicine. The special populations in need of health services have challenges that hinder them from accessing telemedicine such as lack of understanding of telemedicine technology. The fact that many people view telemedicine as a service for selling and buying means people need to be better informed about the uses and benefits of telemedicine (Bradford, Caffery & Smith, 2015).

Most doctors are aware of telemedicine, especially those in developed countries. Some even devote 1-2 hours for consultation using telemedicine. Doctors who have used telemedicine report being satisfied with the outcome (Acharya & Rai, 2016). However, many are of the opinion that for telemedicine to work effectively, the patient must have met with the doctor before. Doctors nonetheless feel that more needs to be done to ensure that the necessary framework is in place to encourage the use of telemedicine. Notably, doctors feel networks and necessary technology should be provided to the patient. Though most doctors appreciate the use of telemedicine, doctors like patients feel proper and regular training on the use of telemedicine should be done (Acharya & Rai, 2016). Doctors feel telemedicine saves them time and enables them to learn, but they do also feel that telemedicine put them at a distance from their patients. Some doctors prefer having physical contact with their patients, something which telemedicine does not provide. Though doctors have different opinions, nearly all of them agree with the fact that technology should be adopted to enhance medical service delivery. Need for creating awareness and educating people on how to use telemedicine should be a key priority to achieve this goal (Acharya & Rai, 2016).

When examining patients’ perceptions of telemedicine, the findings show that most patients have no problem using telemedicine. Patients in rural areas, however, lack the basic knowledge necessary to use telemedicine (Acharya & Rai, 2016). Furthermore, most patients in rural areas do not know the benefits of using telemedicine. Due to inadequate understanding of telemedicine, some patients see telemedicine as a waste of time (Acharya & Rai, 2016). Patients who understand the way telemedicine works and use telemedicine are of the view that the network is a barrier to effectively using telemedicine. Notably, in rural areas, especially in the developing nations, network access is a problem. This makes the application of telemedicine complicated. Researchers believe that for telemedicine to succeed, on-site support is important (Acharya & Rai, 2016). This will ensure customers are able to ask questions when they do not understand how to use or access telemedicine. Most people in rural areas, according to research, believe that telemedicine is the way to ensure equitable healthcare access. Yet, like the physicians, rural patients emphasize the need for training to effectively use telemedicine (Acharya & Rai, 2016).

Advantages of Telemedicine in Rural Areas

Rural areas face many challenges as far as health services are concerned. Introduction of telemedicine will no doubt enable an increasing number of people in rural areas to access medical services. Telemedicine has numerous advantages and benefits and has immense potential to grow and revolutionize service provision in the health sector (Staff, 2018). Telemedicine has now become a popular medical support service that has enabled doctors to effectively interact with their patients. There are numerous advantages or benefits of telemedicine:

  • Some patients are not comfortable sharing their information in person. Telemedicine, therefore, provides them with an opportunity to communicate with a health professional without necessarily going to the hospital (Ripton & Winkler, 2016). Telemedicine enables both parties to communicate effectively without fear and allows for convenience. Telemedicine enables the patient to share information freely that could have been otherwise difficult to share. Notably, telemedicine enables sharing of information and images from one point to another safely through a safe platform. This security has enabled people to feel comfortable using this technique since they are convinced their information is kept confidential (Ripton & Winkler, 2016).
  • Telemedicine plays an important role during emergencies by ensuring that individuals are assisted before seeking further treatment. In places where the road networks are poor, patients suffering from an emergency might experience a delay in reaching a hospital, which could increase the risk to their lives (Ripton & Winkler, 2016). Telemedicine saves time and ensures that the patient is attended to on the spot before being transferred to a health facility. Telemedicine can even resolve the emergency and enable the patient to return to normal life.
  • Telemedicine helps to eliminate infectious diseases that could have otherwise been passed from patients to health professionals (Ripton & Winkler, 2016). Physical contact with sick patients can endanger the lives of health professionals since they are at risk of contracting infectious diseases. Telemedicine enables healthcare professionals to deal with infectious diseases from a distance. It also prevents the patients from traveling from home to hospital (Ripton & Winkler, 2016). Traveling from home to hospital puts the lives of other people in danger. Telemedicine enables patients to minimize their contact with other people, consequently ensuring that infectious diseases do not spread.
  • Many rural areas do not have enough providers to deal with the needs of the local population’s health-related issues. Establishing medical facilities in these areas is costly and time-consuming. Furthermore, many healthcare professionals report that they are unwilling to work in these areas (Ripton & Winkler, 2016). Telemedicine is the most appropriate technique to enable people in these areas to access medical services like their urban counterparts. Also, due to inadequate healthcare services in remote or rural areas, people living outside major cities can easily utilize telemedicine to improve their access. These people have few options and, as a result, they will be willing to access training, which will make it easy for decision-makers to implement telemedicine (Ripton & Winkler, 2016).
  • Telemedicine promotes health education, which is important for achieving a healthy society. Healthcare professionals can use telemedicine to monitor what health experts are doing to improve their knowledge (Ripton & Winkler, 2016). Health experts, on the other hand, can manage and supervise their juniors. This is important to ensure that proper coordination is enhanced in the health sector. It also provides an opportunity for patients to ask questions that are important for their health at any time. Telemedicine also enables health professionals to send periodical messages to their patients to remind them about appointments and medication needs (Ripton & Winkler, 2016). Consequently, patients will be able to adhere to their doctor’s instructions, which will promote faster healing.
  • Telemedicine works 24/7 (Advantages & Disadvantages of Telemedicine in Rural Areas, 2017). As a result, people in remote or rural areas can access health services at any time. People will not have to wait until morning to access medical services if something happens overnight. The patient will simply need to log into the telemedicine platform to get assistance.
  • Telemedicine services are also direct point to point, meaning that the patient and provider reduce their travel time. Saving time will enable health professionals to attend to many patients within a much shorter period of time (Advantages & Disadvantages of Telemedicine in Rural Areas, 2017). Addressing health issues directly will also remove boredom, which sometimes leads to misdiagnosis.
  • Telemedicine has adopted modern innovations such as the use of mobile technology (Advantages & Disadvantages of Telemedicine in Rural Areas, 2017). Most people now have mobile phones or smartphones, which makes it easy to share and receive information. Through continued iterations and discussions with healthcare professionals, telemedicine is continually improving service delivery. Providers from any location can make inquiries or seek assistance from fellow healthcare professionals. This has encouraged teamwork and enabled healthcare professionals to become more innovative (Advantages & Disadvantages of Telemedicine in Rural Areas, 2017).
  • Telemedicine has greatly improved monitoring of patients through the use of computers, smartphones, and tablets. In so doing, patient visits have been significantly reduced. Doctors can now make follow up telemedicine appointments and ascertain whether patients are taking drugs as required or not (Advantages & Disadvantages of Telemedicine in Rural Areas, 2017). Notably, use of telemedicine creates a friendly environment between patients and doctors, which is important for offering quality services.

Disadvantages or Challenges of Telemedicine in Rural Areas

Studies have shown that telemedicine is the future of healthcare provision. Though telemedicine is forecasted to bring positive changes in the health sector, telemedicine has some disadvantages or challenges as shown below:

  • Telemedicine has been found to reduce both the cost for the providers and patients. This is, however, true if the provider has telemedicine equipment in place. The overall cost of implementing or installing telemedicine is high. This, therefore, means small-scale health providers might not be in a position to afford it. It is important also to note that the cost of maintaining telemedicine equipment is high. A healthcare facility thus needs a strong financial base for telemedicine implementation to succeed.
  • Telemedicine reduces interaction between patients and doctors. Some people prefer face to face interaction to effectively deal with issues, but this technique does not offer in-person interaction (Advantages & Disadvantages of Telemedicine in Rural Areas, 2017). Lack of face to face interaction might also lead to errors or misdiagnosis. Also, for telemedicine to succeed, qualified health professionals should be fully involved. This, therefore, means interns should not be allowed to experiment with telemedicine. Also, in the event there is a breach in the security of the computer system managing the telemedicine program, confidential information might be leaked (Advantages & Disadvantages of Telemedicine in Rural Areas, 2017).
  • Telemedicine cannot provide immediate treatment for some diseases. The technique sometimes needs to be backed up by the presence of a health professional (Rural Health Information Hub, n.d.). Also, the technique relies heavily on the availability of the internet, which sometimes might be low.
  • Images transmitted through telemedicine technology are of low quality. Low-quality images might result in errors that could endanger the life of a patient.
  • The telemedicine system requires a lengthy legal procedure to implement (Rural Health Information Hub, n.d.). The system also requires that information is secured entirely. Internet security systems might be costly and time-consuming.

Future Trends

Telemedicine will no doubt shape the future of the health sector. Many countries are expected in the near future to change laws to accommodate telemedicine. Telemedicine is also expected to attract researchers to conduct further research on its benefits and challenges (3 Future Trends for Telehealth, 2012). This is expected to alter the perception of telemedicine significantly. As a result of future research, policymakers and organizations will do more to ensure that telemedicine is adopted. Future laws and policies will focus on bringing on board the private sector. This will be important to ensure that telemedicine is fully implemented to promote a healthy society. Data security in telemedicine will be taken seriously since this is one of the biggest concerns for telemedicine (3 Future Trends for Telehealth, 2012). Telemedicine operators will take stringent measures to ensure that patient data are protected and that a cyber-attack is prevented. This will promote confidence among the patients and other stakeholders, which is important to ensure that telemedicine is supported by all.

Telemedicine is one of the fastest growing segments in the healthcare sector. As a result, telemedicine is expected to attract investors from all walks of life. Investing in telemedicine will no doubt promote creativity and innovation consequently creating opportunities (Koch, 2006). Healthcare centers, organizations, and institutions will improve partnerships. This will promote collaboration and improve health service delivery using telemedicine. Telemedicine will also see the decentralization of the healthcare services, which is important to improve service delivery. Healthcare will move from being an urban center focused model to a community-based healthcare model (Koch, 2006). This will enable the community to own healthcare services while promoting teamwork and collaboration between the patient and the provider.

Conclusion

In summary, telemedicine has numerous benefits for the people living in rural or remote areas compared to the disadvantages. Advancements in technology and globalization will play a significant role in ensuring that telemedicine changes service delivery in the health sector. The cost of technology is reducing on a daily basis and as a result, offering health services from a distance is expected to reduce significantly. This will be good news especially for those who are less privileged and living in remote areas. It is important to note that many questions still need to be addressed to ensure that telemedicine achieves success. The initial implementation and ongoing maintenance costs for telemedicine are still quite high. The need to address this is important to ensure that all hospitals irrespective of the size can afford telemedicine. Laws and regulations governing the implementation of telemedicine should be formulated to ensure that all stakeholders are guided by the law. Telemedicine providers should ensure that the security of data transmitted using telemedicine is secure. Strategies should be put in place to ensure that telemedicine reduces cost and that it is profitable in the long. Bringing all stakeholders on board is important to ensure collaboration is promoted to achieve success.
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