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Telemedicine & Telecare

Bandolier is aware of the growing interest in Telemedicine and Telecare and is sufficiently intrigued to want to find out more. This resolve was further strengthened by the fact that Wales leads the field in the UK; a minion was duly told off to attend the "Wales Telemedicine Conference: Bringing Services to the People" to be held in the Cardiff International Centre on the 27/28th April. Minion will forthwith begin planning for Bandolier's entry into the field.

`Minion' has duly obliged and Bandolier will be pleased to accept enquiries and provisional bookings for its very own Bandolier Conference on "The Role of Telemedicine in Primary Care". This will be held on Fri 10th and Sat 11th July in the Eynsham Hall Conference Centre where we held our first three conferences.

What, some of you may ask, is telemedicine, and what can it do for me and my patients?

Telemedicine can be widely defined as any health care or health education activity that involves either a clinician/carer/teacher or a patient/carer/pupil who are separated in space (and possibly also in time). Alternatively it has been described as any application which electronically reduces the effects of distance in the provision of health care.

Geography is now history

This clearly makes Telemedicine a part of the wider field of information and communication technology. Therein lies a possible barrier to the ready acceptance of the developing technologies. `IT' has generally had a rather poor press in the NHS and this has, in part, contributed to what that learned journal the Economist recently described as "perhaps the clearest example of a medical technology whose time ought to have come but hasn't". The article goes on to say " Depressingly, the slow adoption of new technology in ....hospitals is perhaps only to be expected. Doctors are often so busy trying to keep up with new discoveries about drugs and diseases that they feel they have no time to learn how to use computers as well. The new systems are hard to install and exploit."

It was ever thus. The Times reported in 1834 that the medical profession was unlikely ever to start using the stethoscope "because its beneficial use requires much time and gives a good bit of trouble".

Bandolier deplores this negative view of the medical profession and does not believe that it applies to its own readers. Accordingly it feels that the time is appropriate to make a dispassionate examination of the current developments in 'telecare' and to try to judge if "its time has yet come". We hope that many of you will wish to join us in this endeavour.

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