Health Questions and Answers

Why don’t more people use telemedicine?

Three basic reasons. First, practitioners are reluctant to learn and use a new technology unless there is a clear value to its adoption. Second, practitioners need access to hardware and software to conduct telemedicine consultations. Finally, there are significant legal, regulatory, ethical, and socioeconomic barriers to full implementation of telemedicine in medicine.

  • Telemedicine is the use of advanced telecommunications technologies to exchange clinical information and provide health care services across geographic, time, social, and cultural barriers.
  • Telehealth, by definition, involves a separation of distance and/or time between a patient and a diagnosing or treating clinician.
  • Although there are significant potential advantages and benefits from telemedicine, the evidence of its cost-effectiveness, sustainability, and clinical benefit is meager.


  1. Currell, R, Urquhart, C, Wainwright, et al: Telemedicine versus face to face patient care: Effects on professional practice and health care outcomes. Cochrane Effective Practice and Organization of Care Group-Database of Systematic Reviews. (2): CD002098, 2000.
  2. Mair FS, Haycox A, May C, et al: A review of telemedicine cost-effectiveness studies. J Telemed Telecare 6 (Suppl 1):S38-S40, 2000.
  3. Reid J: A Telemedicine Primer: Understanding the Issues. Billings, MT, Innovative Medical Communications, 1996.

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