Telemedicine is the practice of providing healthcare services remotely with the provider and the patient not being present in the same physical space and the information being transferred via telecommunication systems. As such, telecommunication shows great promise for providing healthcare to the areas that are hard to reach physically. However, telemedicine in its current state also faces serious issues that should not be ignored. From a legal and regulatory perspective, it may raise concerns about cybersecurity and data protection, as well as producing and licensing telemetry hardware and software (Kaplan, 2020). From an ethical standpoint, telemedicine raises concerns of confidentiality and privacy protection while also putting the responsibility to know the limitations of technology and the ways to use it on the clinician’s part (Kaplan, 2020). One can reasonably assume that data privacy will remain the hardest challenge among these. It is a common problem for any industry that utilizes technology-enhanced ways of storing and transferring information, and, as technologies evolve, so do the means of potential digital fraud and data theft.
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The key component of digital infrastructure that is necessary for the successful implementation of telemedicine is interoperability between the databases used by different healthcare providers. Relevant information about the patients is central to healthcare, and the technologies to transfer said information are long present (Kaplan, 2020). However, different healthcare providers store this information in various ways and use different data-keeping standards. Creating and implementing universal nation-wide or even international data-keeping standards would be a crucial development in telemedicine infrastructure because it would allow greater interoperability. Yet even with such infrastructure present, healthcare providers may be reluctant to use telemedicine when it requires them to share patient-related information with other entities due to cybersecurity and privacy concerns. This mistrust in technology or specific organizations using it may prevent healthcare providers from implementing telemedicine even when traditional means of providing care are unavailable.
Kaplan. B. (2020). Revisiting health information technology ethical, legal, and social issues and evaluation: Telehealth/telemedicine and COVID-19. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 143, 104239. Web.