Telemedicine networks to support healthcare workers in resource-limited settings (often for humanitarian purposes) have evolved in a largely autonomous way. Communication between the networks has been informal and relatively limited in scope. This situation could be improved by developing a comprehensive approach to the collection and dissemination of information.
While many telemedicine networks remain experimental, some have matured to become routine services which assist health care delivery in challenging environments. For example, there are a few networks which have been in operation for over a decade, and provide store-and-forward telemedicine services to doctors in low- and middle-income countries. These networks deliver clinically useful services and improved healthcare access. However, like much of telemedicine, the formal evidence for their cost-effectiveness remains weak.
Topics of current research interest therefore include the cost-effectiveness of telemedicine in resource-limited settings. Other topics of interest concern outcomes data (and methods for gathering it) such as patient quality of life following a telemedicine episode, the knowledge-gain of healthcare staff involved in telemedicine, and staff recruitment and retention in rural areas. Finally, there is little published information about the performance of these telemedicine networks (and methods for measuring it), about how best to manage them, and about how to share resources between them.
Following the previous edition, this Research Topic will document current evidence supporting the use of telemedicine in resource-limited settings. We welcome tier one type articles, such as Original Research, Reviews and Methods. The aim is to build the evidence base and to provide a focus for future research, which will also serve to raise the profile of this potentially important research field.
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