Telemedicine, which is the exchange of medical information between locations through the use of electronic communication devices, is primarily used to improve healthcare services. Its most significant feature, its dependence on communication technology, allows it to function as a surrogate to in-person meetings, thus providing diagnosis, pretreatment, and/or posttreatment to medical issues comparable to the conventional face-to-face method of medical practice. The first reference to telemedicine, although primitive, was made in 1897 in a magazine article reporting the use of a telephone in a home setting in lieu of personal visits to the doctor.
Another early application of telemedicine was seen during NASA’s first manned space mission when vital signs were collected regularly from the astronauts to address concerns of ground-based physicians regarding the effects of the absence of gravity on the human body. Today, patients use laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other such telecommunication devices for private real-time consultations with healthcare providers at distant hospitals and clinics concerning medical and pharmaceutical information.
One area where telemedicine may prove to be highly effective is in providing medical care to the elderly, an age group that may soon account for 20% of the population; however, little research has focused on how effective care can
be delivered to this population. Studies indicate that 92% of the elderly are affected by at least one chronic health issue and in some cases two. In addition, they experience reduced mental ability due to dementia as well as reduced motor capabilities, especially in fine motor coordination.