Telehealth – in the context of the delivery of health services and clinical information across a distance – has “come of age” over the last decade, with the advent of consumer videoconferencing, mobile telecommunications devices, high bandwidth ubiquitous connectivity infrastructure, and close range wireless sensor networks. New specialised clinical applications and markets have also emerged, including tele-homecare, tele-rehabilitation, tele-emergency care, tele-surveillance and tele-disaster response. Futuristic advances such as tele-procedures and tele-surgery are regarded as now being “around the corner” and offering unforeseen potential to contribute in the health reform agenda.
Regrettably, two aspects which contribute to telehealth deployment remain elusive: the volume of widely accepted evidence for clinical and economic benefits of telehealth, and the development of policy and business modeling drivers that will speed their adoption. These factors block not only the uptake of telehealth solutions in developed countries, but also in the emerging world. Progress in these two areas depends very strongly on increasing the number and scope of studies such as many of those presented in this book.
The Global Telehealth 2010 conference (GT2010) was convened with this purpose in mind. The theme for the meeting was “Telehealth for every nation, community and home” and papers were solicited internationally to cover a broad spectrum from successfully completed projects to work in progress. This book contains selected contributions of papers deemed to have lasting value and which capture the international diversity and variations of scope of contemporary telehealth developments, in keeping with this theme.
GT2010 was supported by the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth (ISfTeH) and hosted by the Australasian Telehealth Society (ATHS), an organisation formed in 2008 to promote the growth of telehealth in all aspects, through Australian and New Zealand. The event would not have been possible without generous primary sponsorship by CSIRO, and the support of several companies and agencies involved with telehealth and eHealth. Endorsement of the event by numerous professional societies and promotion of it to their membership was also very much appreciated.
Reviewing of all papers submitted for publication in this book was undertaken by an international panel of independent expert reviewers, who are listed elsewhere. Approximately 70% of those papers submitted for review were accepted. The editors wish to record their grateful acknowledgement of the efforts of the reviewers who conducted detailed appraisals of the papers and provided valuable feedback leading to the high standard of work appearing in this publication.
Anthony C. Smith,
The University of Queensland, Centre for Online Health, Australia
Anthony J. Maeder,
University of Western Sydney, School of Computing and Mathematics, Australia