Telehealth terminology: a contribution to the debate

Adam Vincent, Caitlin M Cusack, Eric Pan, Julie M. Hook, David C. Kaelber and Blackford Middleton from Partners Healthcare System and Harvard Medical School produced a one-page conference poster for the AMIA 2007 Symposium suggesting a taxonomy for telehealth. This is an interesting and useful contribution to the debate about terminology. View/download ‘A New Taxonomy for Telehealth Technologies‘.

They suggest that four factors need to be taken into account and that they will “allow for the inclusion of future telehealth endeavors”. They are (and I have paraphrased for simplicity here): Type of Interaction; Location of Controlling Medical Authority; Real-time care, and whether the data is used in ‘store and forward’ mode.

This would be fine if it were not for the medico-centric nature of the model. (Mind you, I quite like the Larsonesque idea of some of the doctors being on the ‘far side’.) The world is changing and, as this WSDAN article by Nick Goodwin points out, patients will start to take more control. I think that will be especially true when Google Health and Microsoft Health Vault take hold and home-based telehealth monitoring becomes as ubiquitous as mobile phones.

Thanks to Frank Wartena of Philips Research Europe for pointing out the poster.