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July 24, 1996

Physicians Put Promise of Telemedicine to the Test: Reports From Rural Practitioners, Anesthesiologists

Author Affiliations

JAMA contributor

JAMA. 1996;276(4):267-268. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540040011006

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TELEMEDICINE includes both the diagnosis and treatment of distant patients and the use of distant resources to care for patients who are close at hand.

The explosive growth and development of digital technologies, high-speed communications, and imaging protocols, along with reductions in the cost of computing equipment, increased use of the Internet, and changes in the economics and organization of health care, have all spurred investments in telemedicine systems across the United States.

However, efforts to evaluate their impact have been hampered by a variety of factors, including the existence of relatively few telemedicine programs, the relatively few patients seen per site, the short operating periods in demonstration projects, and the few organized attempts at collecting high-quality data. These issues were explored in several sessions at the 1996 Spring Congress of the American Medical Informatics Association, held in Kansas City, Mo.

Essential to Rural Medicine?  For decades, telemedicine has been