Telemedicine in remote health care
This thesis offers a review of the historical development of telemedicine services in remote health care. It addresses the professional concerns in practising medicine in isolated conditions, and the advances in telecommunications technology since the telephone was invented. It also examines the application of telemedicine in remote environments across the world, such as in indigenous communities, remote industrial work sites and at scientific bases in Antarctica. At its most exotic, a review is offered of the health care for space crews. The literature review highlights a number of concerns about the state of the art knowledge on remote health care services. These concerns are the minimal training requirements of individuals who act as health care practitioners in the remote environment, the additional training requirement upon the advising medical practitioner, and the design of a system for the collection of clinical information from the patient. In response to the above a two year study was conducted. Quantitative and qualitative observation of remote health care consultations was undertaken. The environments studied were simulation cases occurring in the UK and Antarctica, and real cases presenting on oil installations in the North Sea. The study results answer the original concerns about the training levels, data collection and communications components of a remote health care service. In addition, they offer valuable input towards the design of a telemedicine model for remote health care. The telemedicine model is presented as a framework upon which future developments in the field of telemedicine may be approached.