Healthcare Information Evolution


Health Information Technology (HIT) is a growing and changing field in today’s hi-tech world.  Numerous advances in technology have led to improved systems and devices for patient care.  Telemedicine allows for medical information to be transmitted from one location to another via electronic communications to assist with the treatment of patients.  This enables patients to be treated at distant locations.


            According to ICUcare LLC (2010), “Telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve, maintain, or assist patient’s health status.  Closely associated with telemedicine is the term ‘telehealth’, which is often used to encompass a broader definition of remote health care that does not always involve clinical services.  Videoconferencing, transmission of still images, e-health including patient portals, remote monitoring of vital signs, continuing medical education, and nursing call centers, are all considered part of telemedicine and telehealth” (para. 1).


            Telemedicine can be a simple as two doctors talking on the phone about the treatment of a shared patient, or as complex as a two-way interactive videoconference.  Either method allows greater access to health-care providers, particularly specialists, that would otherwise be available in some areas.  There are a variety of peripheral devices that can be directly linked to the computer to add in a patient examination, from a stethoscope to an MRI.  Development is currently ongoing in developing robotic technology to perform telesurgery by allowing a surgeon to control a robotic arm to perform surgery in another location.  Closed-circuit television systems can provide for around the clock patient monitoring, and existing ICU patient monitoring systems can easily be configured to allow physiological vital signs to be read from a remote location.  (Wagner, Lee, & Glaser, 2009).


The types of telemedicine can be broken down to two main categories: asynchronous and real time.  Asynchronous, often called store and forward simple acquires the data at a location, and then transmits the data to another location whenever it is convenient.  Real-time communication can be fully interactive or simply monitoring the patient via the use of closed-circuit cameras or other systems.  (Wikipedia, 2010).


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