- Report Published -
|A Joint Study to Establish Guidelines for Ensuring Compatibility Among Telemedicine Equipment|
|Secretary of Technology|
|HJR 683 (Regular Session, 1999)|
|House Joint Resolution 683 (HJR 683) was agreed to by the General Assembly in February, 1999. HJR 683 calls for the Secretary of Technology, in cooperation with the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and other state agencies and organizations, to develop guidelines to ensure compatibility, where possible, among the equipment purchased by state agencies, and others involved in telemedicine.|
The Secretary of Technology assigned the Department of Technology Planning (DTP) to conduct this study. DTP was formerly the Council on Information Management. Murray D. Rosenberg of DTP was assigned as the Study Team Leader. Invitations were extended to 20 organizations for a meeting that was held on August 5, 1999, to form a Study Team to initiate work on a report to comply with the mandate of HJR 683 (see APPENDIX A). In addition to the charge of HJR 683, the Study Team addressed other topics. Based on the consensus of those at this meeting, the topics to be covered were to be of a wider scope than the original charge of HJR 683 and should be included in the Study Report. These topics included:
• The charge of HJR 683 -- "to develop guidelines for ensuring compatibility among telemedicine equipment operated by state agencies and other affected entities;"
• The need for a "catalog" of telemedicine/telehealth (TM/TH) projects or programs throughout the Commonwealth;
• The need for a greatly improved communication mechanism for dialogs among practitioners of-- and parties interested in -- TM/TH;
• Establishing and maintaining a listing of existing technical standards in TM/TH telecommunications, with related hardware and software standards also are of interest;
• Determining TM/TH functional standards, i.e., which bandwidth is best suited for a particular service or mode of operation; and
• The need to reduce redundant or overlapping TM/TH efforts. Many agencies and departments are pursuing the same or similar objectives, unknown to each other. Statewide contracts for TM/TH related hardware and software are also a priority, with inter-operability of such hardware and software being an essential requirement.
There are many definitions offered for "telemedicine." One states it involves "the use of modem information technology, especially two-way interactive audio/video telecommunications, computers, and telemetry, to deliver health services to remote patients and to facilitate information exchange between primary care physicians and specialists at some distances from each other." Rather than the traditional face-to-face structure, health care professional to patient, telemedicine (TM) allows the separation of the two by a physical distance, with services provided via an electronic linkage. Thus, telemedicine or, more broadly, telehealth (TH) offers one of the most significant and dramatic changes in the practice of health care that has been seen in the United States since its founding in 1776. In doing so it offers for those requiring health care many more opportunities for superior care, especially in inner city and rural areas. In addition, it offers a mechanism to ameliorate the delivery of medical care by centralization of items such as telecommunications, education, equipment use, etc. TM/TH is an area where public and private benefits converge.
Based on the stated vision of the Governor and the Secretary of Technology for the role of information technology in the Commonwealth for continued economic development, TM/TH can be a significant tool. For example, the availability of tertiary-level medical consultations can make rural areas more desirable for business development. The Governor's Commission on Information Technology's report (May 12, 1999) entitled, "Toward a Statewide Investment Strategy: Leveraging Information Technology for Regional Growth," makes it is clear that TM/TH and its development are in the best interests of the Commonwealth.