• Telemedicine
  • Telemedicine growth forecast still up

    A report by Research and Markets, a market research and data company based in Ireland, is forecasting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the global telemedicine of more than 18% over 2012 to 2018. The estimated value of the market in 2012 was US$ 14.2 billion.

    The forecast increase correlates with telecommunication development. The dearth of physicians in rural and remote areas continues to provide the opportunities for telemedicine to increase services to millions of patients. The prevalence of chronic diseases and the increasing number of elderly in the population are other reason for continuous telemedicine investment to achieve improved service quality.

    African countries planning telemedicine initiatives can rely on the growth in supply side of the market. They still need to assess carefully the range of options available and potential changes in future technology as mHealth apps expand into telemedicine and clinical solutions. In parallel, some specialties may need expanded clinical teams to deal with the increased workload from latent demand for healthcare. The strategic benefit is still there for patients.

  • Telehealth takes more than a baby step forward

    A new telemedicine initiative for neonatal intensive care units (NICU) in Texas is due to start soon. Business Wire has reported The Children’s Medical Center announcement about the Children’s Medical Center TeleNICU, a new service to provide physicians at other hospital NICU’s with 24-hour access to highly trained neonatologists caring for very sick babies.

    The program will use secure broadband transmission for real-time communication between hospitals and neonatologists at Children’s Medical Center.  Christopher J. Durovich, president and chief executive officer said that “As the first telemedicine program of its kind in Texas, the Children’s Medical Center TeleNICU program exemplifies our deep commitment to innovation and the use of proven technology to extend the reach of our expertise beyond the boundaries of walls and geography.”

    This is a major step for telemedicine. African countries have an opportunity to review their telemedicine programs and prepare to expand into these critical care services.

  • Telemonitoring evaluations can be better

    Research published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research claims that many telemonitoring appraisals do not comply with recognized guidelines and standards. Some methodological limitations identified in the study results affect the results and conclusions of some evaluations.

    The research team concluded that, “Despite the availability of methodological guidelines that can be utilized to guide the proper conduct of systematic reviews and meta-analyses and eliminate potential risks of bias, this knowledge has not yet been fully integrated in the area of home telemonitoring.

    The study found that the number of published reviews has increased substantially over the years, but the focus was mainly on home telemonitoring of patients with congestive heart failure. Other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma have less emphasis.

    The study’s findings are that many reviews appear to lack optimal scientific rigor due to methodological issues and their overall quality does not appear to have improved. Evaluations did comply with several criteria satisfactorily, such as establishing an a priori design with inclusion and exclusion criteria, use of electronic searches on multiple databases, and reporting studies characteristics. But, other important areas need improvement, including duplicate data extraction, manual searches of highly relevant journals, inclusion of grey and non-English literature, assessment of the methodological quality of included studies and the quality of evidence.

    It seems that progress on evaluations may be slow. Criticisms go back to Whitten’s review on telemedicine evaluations in 2002.