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March 24/31, 1999

Technical and Clinical Progress in Telemedicine

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Telemedicine Program, Regional Programs, and the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock (Dr Strode); Eastern Area Health Education Center, Eastern Carolina School of Medicine, Greenville, NC (Dr Gustke); and Department of Medicine and Telemedicine Services, University of Kansas Medical School, and Telemedicine Today magazine, Kansas City, Kan (Dr Allen).


Edited by Thomas C. Jefferson, MD, JAMA Fishbein Fellow.

JAMA. 1999;281(12):1066-1068. doi:10.1001/jama.281.12.1066

Telemedicine is defined as the delivery of health care and sharing of medical knowledge over a distance using telecommunications systems. Although the telephone is certainly the oldest such system, the term telemedicine is usually applied to telecommunications systems of more recent origin: interactive televideo, "store-and-forward" image and medical record transmission via personal computers, and remote monitoring. Two technological developments in the early 1990s have led to a surge in interest in telemedicine. One is the increasing deployment of high-speed, high-bandwidth telecommunications systems around the world. The second development is the invention of devices capable of capturing and transmitting images and other data in digital form.1 While the costs for the hardware, software, and signal transmission are high, they are declining significantly each year. Interactive video equipment that cost more than $100,000 in 1992 can today be purchased for less than $20,000—and today's equipment has more capabilities.