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About telemedicine
With the endemic ageing of the European population, there is an accompanied rise in the number of those requiring special care. At the same time, the expectations of a more informed society in a high-tech age are also rising.

Telemedicine - An inevitable trend
Fortunately the rapid advances of Information & Communications Technology (ICT), if wisely harnessed, offers the possibility of improving health services within Europe and making the best use of limited and valuable resources. The conversion of traditional healthcare services to improved systems based on advanced ICT allows more efficient treatment and care with the added possibilities offered by Telemedicine, and more generally, by eHealth.
Exactly what is Telemedicine and eHealth?
eHeatlh diagram
Components of eHealth
The terms Telemedicine and eHealth are sometimes confused or broadly used interchangeably. Telemedicine normally refers to the practice of medicine, or provision of medical services from a distance, while eHealth, broadly speaking, refers to the administration of health data electronically. Some widely accepted definitions are given below and illustrated in the figure.


  • Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication technologies to provide healthcare services across geographic, temporal, social, and cultural barriers. (J. Reid, 1996)

  • The delivery of healthcare services, where distance is a critical factor, by healthcare professionals using information and communications technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of healthcare providers, all in the interest of advancing the health and their communities. (WHO, 1997)


  • eHealth refers to the use of modern information and communication technologies to meet needs of citizens, patients, healthcare professionals, healthcare providers, as well as policy makers. (Ministerial Declaration, eHealth, 22 May 2003)

  • eHealth refers to the use of information and communications techniques including health-related activities, services and systems carried out over a distance for the purposes of global health promotion, disease control and healthcare, as well as education, management and research for health. (L. Androuchko, ITU-D, ITU Workshop on Standardisation on eHealth, 2003)

  • eHealth is an emerging field in the intersection of medical informatics, public health and business, referring to health services and information delivered or enhanced through the Internet and related technologies. In a broader sense, the term characterises a technical development, but also a state-of-mind, a way of thinking, an attitude, and a commitment for networked, global thinking, to improve healthcare locally, regionally, and worldwide by using information and communication technology. (Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2001)

Last update: 9 December 2004

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