A new telemedicine service providing information about activities, companies and other information related to the use of information and communication technologies to deliver health care to patients at a distance has been launched. The service is provided by the Healthcare Computing Group at the University of Portsmouth and is sponsored by the NHS Information Authority. Telemedicine has the potential for bringing radical change to health and social services. Bringing patients and clinicians together through an electronic link gives the opportunity to completely re-think how services are delivered. The Department of Health believes that it is not the technology that will make the difference, but the technology will stimulate a re-engineering of health care services.The service will be used by Doctors, clinicians, other health professionals and administrators, who are thinking of setting up their own telemedicine or e-health project. They will be able to find out about other practitioners who may have already done similar things. All health authorities are now required to develop an ICT strategy that includes the application of telemedicine to local problems. In 2005, it is planned to start the implementation of a national broadband network that will also enable a more general take-up of telemedicine.
There are many areas where telemedicine can be used. Ambulances can be equipped with video and monitoring equipment so that victims of accidents can get the most appropriate care while they are being taken to hospital. The consulting room could become the place where appointments are booked, test results received and more diagnosis carried out using video and telelinks to hospital specialists.
The database holds over 2000 entries and is updated regularly by a team who monitor the professional press and attend telemedicine events.