The healthcare industry has recently been bombarded with new innovations in information technology (IT). Such innovations include robots that will perform bypass surgery thereby reducing recovery time, the digitization of medical records, and satellite technologies that will detect breast tumors.  However, the most widespread technology emerging in this field is telemedicine as it has the capacity to connect patients and doctors all over the world via the Internet, satellite, and other capabilities. The emergence of telemedicine has been fueled by innovations in computer networking technology which has changed the way that people and organizations communicate with one another.

 

Networking technology was born out of a necessity to communicate between two or more parties more efficiently and effectively than via traditional methods, such as phone and the United States Postal Service.  Today, these technologies are converging with health care to provide additional options and benefits to patients via telemedicine. This paper first defines the concept of telemedicine and then provides a framework to classify the different forms of telemedicine. Following this, we discuss the various benefits of telemedicine as well as the various challenges faced by healthcare organizations seeking to move into this promising area. The paper then concludes with a discussion of future directions for telemedicine.