Telemedicine has been around in the U.S. for quite some time, but experts at the IEEE (News - Alert) have just announced that its “technologically ready to meet the growing demand” in developing nations and remote areas around the world, according to a press release posted at finance.yahoo.com.
But there’s a caveat. Widespread use of telemedicine will only happen if technologists and clinicians work together to ensure it can be used everywhere in the world, the story says. Towards this end, the IEEE will hold two conferences in Boston later this year.
According to BCC (News - Alert) Research as reported in the press release, the global telemedicine market is expected to grow “from $9.8 billion in 2010 to $23 billion in 2015, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.6 percent over the next several years.” BCC Research adds that the “telehome market currently accounts for 22% of the market and is expected to capture almost 37% of the telemedicine market by 2012.”
Telemedicine is the exchange of information from one site to another using technology.
"From faster wireless networks to mobile imaging applications to biosensors, the technologies for delivering telemedicine services are certainly there," said Dr. Yongmin Kim, IEEE Fellow and professor of bioengineering and electrical engineering at the University of Washington, in the story. "But advancing telemedicine through technology innovation alone is not enough. We now need to make it easier for the healthcare providers to embrace and apply these technologies in diverse medical environments."
First, healthcare providers and technologists “must agree on standards for minimum system performance of telemedicine networks and platforms, along with the development of a common vocabulary to describe these technologies,” recommends Dr. Yadin David, IEEE senior member and founder of the Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law in Washington, D.C., in the press release.
"Healthcare providers can look at the technical description of a heart pump or X-ray machine and understand whether it will meet their requirements in delivering quality care to a patient,” Dr. David was quoted in the press release. “But how easily can radiologists, for example, understand whether the pixel resolution or compression rate of their video equipment will enable them to clearly see fine detail on images for more accurate diagnoses? We need to translate technical criteria into the clinical domain to make it easier for healthcare providers to relate to it."
To help make this happen, IEEE is bringing together technical experts in telemedicine with the clinicians who must use it on October16-18 in Boston when it hosts a joint medical technology conference with the American Medical Association, according to the press release. The IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology (EMB) Society International Conference August 30 to September 3, also in Boston, will include several presentations on the latest advances in wireless health technologies, robot-aided surgery, and health information management, the press release reports.
Deborah DiSesa Hirsch is an award-winning health and technology writer who has worked for newspapers, magazines and IBM (News - Alert) in her 20-year career. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves