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Telemedicine in developing countries

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 08 September 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:524

May have more impact than in developed countries

  1. Steven M Edworthy, associate professor of medicine and community health sciences (
  1. University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4NI

    Clinical review p 557

    The advent of modern communication technology has unleashed a new wave of opportunities and threats to the delivery of health services.1 Telemedicine, a broad umbrella term for delivery of medical care at a distance, has reached around the world, and now health professionals can communicate faster, more widely, and more directly with clients and colleagues, no matter where they are.2 Telemedicine may in fact have a more profound impact on developing countries than on developed ones.

    Satellite stations in Uzbekistan, wireless connections in Cambodia, and microwave transmission in Kosova have shown that the low bandwidth internet can reach into remote areas, some of them with troubled political situations and uncertain economic environments. It has been more difficult and costly to implement broad bandwidth applications in these locations. Nevertheless, with the internet come email, websites, chatlines, multimedia presentations, and occasional opportunities for synchronous communication via internet phones and videoconferencing. Each of these communication vehicles provides an opportunity for medical education and medical care, not to mention collegial support.3 Of course, they …

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