The Oxford Telemedicine Institute
Telemedicine defined is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via the use of telecommunications equipment to improve patients' health care.
Lead Researcher – Linda Hands
The Oxford Telemedicine Institute was set up within the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences 18 months ago to bring together clinicians interested in collaboration in research and development projects using electronic transfer of data to enhance the patient’s pathway.
“Telemedicine” defined is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via the use of telecommunications equipment to improve patients' health care. Closely associated with telemedicine is the term "telehealth," which is often used to encompass a broader definition of remote healthcare that does not always involve clinical services. Videoconferencing, transmission of still images, e-health including patient portals, remote monitoring of vital signs and continuing medical education are all considered part of telemedicine and telehealth.
Early telemedicine may have been as simple as a doctor telephoning another doctor for advice and consultation. Today, telemedicine can bring a doctor located at another site into the actual examination room via a live interactive system.
Telemedicine improves access by:
- Enabling rapid patient assessment including supporting real-time treatment by first responders through the use of wireless devices.
- Providing healthcare that would not be available otherwise, facilitating more informed decision-making and enhanced quality of care.
- Enabling speciality consultations in locations where they would not ordinarily be available potentially saving lives through remote consultations, whether urgent or diagnostic.
- Increasing timeliness of treatment and decreasing transfer rates while reducing the necessity for expensive travel.
- Reducing the need to move patients.
- Facilitating distance education training and knowledge transfer to nurses and doctors
The core principals of telemedicine are that it is only a tool and must be clinician directed. It must also be integrated into established working practices in order to be fully accepted and routinely utilised by clinicians. Importantly the clinician patient relationship must be preserved - telemedicine does not and should not alter the practice of medicine.
The Oxford Telemedicine Institute provides a base for hospital and community based clinicians, working across all specialities, to collaborate with non-clinicians in the development of new patient pathways and support systems using electronic data transfer.
There are a number of projects currently running including:
- The Interhospital Telemedicine Study
- The Integrated
- This project is developing community based investigations and video conferencing to diagnose and manage patients in the community as far as possible. The initial work is with leg ulcers but there are plans to extend to other presenting complaints.
- The Future Ward
- Electronic data transfer to facilitate and guide inpatient management on the ward round is being developed with the aim of safer and more efficient patient care.
|Miss Linda Hands
Nurse Research Manager