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Int J Med Inform. 2001 May;61(2-3):131-7.

The present and future of telemedicine in Japan.

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Department of Medical Informatics, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, 606-8507, Kyoto, Japan.


Telemedicine has always developed in close relation with communication technology. When only aural telephones were used, several experiments of telemedicine were carried out by utilizing telephone lines. When INS64 (ISDN with 64 kbits) and telecommunication satellites came onto the scene, experiments for telemedicine began to be conducted accordingly using the cutting-edge technology of the time. In this paper, one of the three categories of telemedicine, mainly tele-consultation that includes tele-pathology and tele-radiology, will be discussed with some examples conducted in Japan. As time goes on, the aim of telemedicine has also been changing. In 1996, the Japanese government gave the go ahead for telemedicine along its deregulation policies. Telemedicine including tele-home care in the 21st century will use the Internet and digital HDTV (high-definition TV) technology for information and data management interchangeably both at domestic and global levels in the medical environment. Also, our dream of a hyper-hospital or virtual hospital will be realized in cyberspace before long, but first we may have to overcome several tough problems such as the protection of privacy data, malpractice and vulnerability of technology relevant to the Internet and telecommunications satellite system as a whole.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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