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Sante Publique. 2016 Oct 19;28(4):487-497.

Telemedicine in rural areas: general practitioners’ representations and experiences

[Article in French]



Telemedicine is a rapidly growing new mode of healthcare practice. It is particularly used and needed in remote areas in Lorraine (North East of France) that currently face a shortage of general practitioners and specialists. The objective of this study was to analyse general practitioner’s representations of telemedicine and teleconsultation. The study also identified the advantages and disadvantages of this new mode of medical practice.


A qualitative research was led: 5 focus groups were conducted with 32 doctors in areas faced with the problems of health professional shortages between June 2014 and July 2015.


This study reveals a general ignorance of telemedicine. Doctors want to play a central role in this new form of medical practice which must remain optional. Their reluctance essentially concerns financial and legal aspects that constitute obstacles to the development of telemedicine. Finally, this new mode of medical practice must comply with a legal framework regarding medical responsibility and personal data protection.


More than 100 medical procedures are delivered by telemedicine in Lorraine each month. This new technology is a solution to provide healthcare services in medically underserved areas. However, general practitioners want to preserve the “doctor-patient” relationship and do not wish to change their practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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