Comparative performance of seven long-running telemedicine networks delivering humanitarian services

R. Wootton, A. Geissbuhler, K. Jethwani, C. Kovarik, D.A. Person, A. Vladzymyrskyy, P. Zanaboni, M. Zolfo

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article

Abstract

Seven long-running telemedicine networks were surveyed. The networks provided humanitarian services (clinical and educational) in developing countries, and had been in operation for periods of 5-15 years. The number of experts serving each network ranged from 15 to 513. The smallest network had a total of 10 requesters and the largest one had more than 500 requesters. The networks operated in nearly 60 countries. The seven networks managed a total of 1857 cases in 2011, i.e. an average of 265 cases per year per network. There was a significant growth in total activity, amounting to 100.3 cases per year during the 15 year study period. In 2011, network activity was 50-700 teleconsultations per network. There were clear differences in the patterns of activity, with some networks managing an increasing caseload, and others managing a slowly reducing caseload. The seven networks had published a total of 44 papers listed in Medline which summarized the evidence resulting from the delivery of services by telemedicine. There was a dearth of information about clinical and cost-effectiveness. Nevertheless, the services were widely appreciated by referring doctors, considered to be clinically useful, and there were indications that clinical outcomes for telemedicine patients were often improved. Despite a lack of formal evidence, the present study suggests that telemedicine can provide clinically useful services in developing countries.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare
Volume18
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)305-311
Number of pages7
ISSN1357-633X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Humanitarian action
  • Health services
  • Telemedicine
  • Communication
  • Clinical medicine
  • Educational tools
  • Networks
  • Case management
  • Publishing
  • MEDLINE
  • Efficiency
  • Efficacy
  • Developing countries

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