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J Telemed Telecare. 1995;1(2):69-78.

Evaluation of a distance consulting service based on interactive video and integrated computerized technology.

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Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Telemedicine equipment was installed at a rural site in Drumheller and at Calgary, 85 miles (136 km) away. It allowed consultation between health-care providers at Drumheller and specialists and subspecialists at the Faculty of Medicine in Calgary. The efficacy of the system in providing more equitable access to health care for persons living in geographically remote sites was evaluated during a 12-month pilot project. Seventy-five encounters were attempted during the study. A total of 55 encounters (42 clinical and 13 non-clinical) were completed. The completed clinical encounters were distributed across a wide spectrum of medical specialties. Users of the system reported favourably on the impact of the telemedicine system on access to health services for rural patients, on diagnostic, investigative and management decisions, on patient and physician travel times, on feelings of professional isolation and educational opportunities and on overall patient health status. The study provides new knowledge and demonstrates the success of the technology in this project. As expected, other problems were raised and addressed in a preliminary manner including: the potential for health-provider education; acquisition and retention of rural physicians; ethical, legal and patient confidentiality issues; minimum acceptable technology; and network management issues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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