Telemedicine Research: Opportunities and Challenges

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Telemedicine is emerging as an effective tool that can potentially enhance the ability to provide quality health care in hospitals, professional offices, and homes. Applications have demonstrated success in a wide range of disciplines and are particularly important for rural communities in hopes of advancing health care practices to these areas that may not have the same advantages, resources, or specialists. Research into this exciting field has led to challenges rather unique to telemedicine. The demands for appropriate research methods and tools for each application have become more complex because of the variety of fields involved and issues specific to telemedicine.

Telemedicine research commonly encompasses various sites and review boards, which introduces more challenges. Adding to the complexity of telemedicine research are the ethical and legal issues associated with the use of technology, enrolling participants, transmitting data, confidentiality, and licensing. Illuminating perceptions and level of satisfaction could help identify methods of facilitating acceptance of telemedicine and expedite the transition from using solely traditional methods of health care to including telemedicine. Despite all the challenges, telemedicine presents many opportunities and brings such promise to the increasing shortage of health care providers. Accordingly, it is vital for researchers to address and overcome these challenges.

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