Definition of telemedicine
Telemedicine is a form of remote medical practice that uses information and communication technologies.
It brings together healthcare professionals and their patients in order to establish a diagnosis, to ensure preventive or post-therapeutic follow-up, to request specialized advice, to prepare a therapeutic decision, to prescribe products, to prescribe or to perform services or acts, or to monitor the condition of patients.
The definition of telemedicine acts as well as their conditions for implementation and financial support are set by decree, taking into account the deficiencies in the provision of care due to insularity and geographical isolation. – Article L6316-1 of the Health Code.
Types of telemedicine services
In France, five types of telemedicine services have been defined by decree n° 2010-1229 of October 19th, 2010:
- Teleconsultation allows a medical practitioner to give a remote consultation to a patient. A health professional may be present with the patient and, if necessary, assist the medical practitioner during the teleconsultation;
- Tele-expertise allows a medical professional to remotely seek the opinion of other medical professionals because of their particular training or expertise, in relation to and based on the medical information of the patient being cared for;
- Remote monitoring enables a medical professional to remotely interpret the data necessary for the medical follow-up of a patient and, where appropriate, to take decisions relating to the care of the patient. The recording and transmission of data can be automated or carried out by the patient himself/herself or by an on-site health professional;
- Tele-assistance enables a medical professional to remotely assist another health professional during the performance of an act;
- The medical response is provided within the framework of the medical regulation referred to in Article L. 6311-2 and the third paragraph of Article L. 6314-1.
The benefits of telemedicine
For the patients
The benefits of telemedicine for the patient are many, but they all stem from a better quality of care:
by improved medical follow-up, especially for patients suffering from chronic pathology. Medical monitoring ensures continuous monitoring of the patient by the doctor, even during the interval between two consultations. The latter can then act at an early stage in the event of a significant change in the patient’s condition.
by improved access to care, especially for patients living in isolated or remote areas, or faced with the absence of a health professional in their vicinity.
Finally, the benefits for the patient result from the high level of safety of medical procedures: telemedicine is not a medicine “on the cheap”, a second-best. On the contrary, it increases the chances of the patient, allowing more rapid and relevant care and guidance.
For the health professionals
Telemedicine promotes a medical practice based on cooperation with other professionals, enabling everyone to better express their skills and bring new medical organization opportunities.
These benefits also imply constraints on health professionals, such as inducing changes in medical practice, management of the patient’s “remote” relationship, or a new organizational scheme.
For the health system
Telemedicine makes it possible to provide certain services while controlling health expenditure, through efficient use of resources.
It participates in the development of medical progress in the same way as other therapeutic or clinical innovations.