Telemedicine can improve access to specialised care in areas suffering from a shortage of expertise, or in areas where access to healthcare is difficult. Telemonitoring can improve the quality of life of chronically ill patients and reduce hospital stays. Services such as teleradiology and teleconsultation can help to shorten waiting lists, optimise the use of resources and enable productivity gains.
The benefits go beyond improving patient care and healthcare system efficiency. Telemedicine can also make a significant contribution to the EU economy. This sector, where European industry - including thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - is well placed, has been expanding rapidly in the past decade and is expected to continue to grow at a fast pace.
Despite the potential of telemedicine, its benefits and the technical maturity of the applications, the use of telemedicine services is still limited, and the market remains highly fragmented. Although Member States have expressed their commitment to wider deployment of telemedicine, most telemedicine initiatives are no more than one-off, small-scale projects that are not integrated into healthcare systems.
Download from the eHealthNews.EU Portal's mirror: Communication from the Commission on Telemedicine for the Benefit of Patients, Healthcare Systems and Society (.pdf, 61 KB).
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