Human development is the basic right of every individual and health is a pre-requisite for the socio-economic development. Health is an entry-point towards prosperity and reducing poverty. The links between ill health and poverty are well known. Ill health contributes to poverty due to “catastrophic costs” of illness and reduced earning capacity during illness. Poor people suffer disproportionately from disease and are at higher risk of dying from their illness than are better off and healthier individuals. Women and children are particularly vulnerable. Illness keeps children away from schools, decreasing their chances of productive adulthood.
Telemedicine covers various communication modalities and is not a single technology. This ranges from the use of sophisticated video conferencing and other conferencing modalities, through Web-based provider patient communication systems, to the use of basic telephone service.
It is defined as the delivery of health care and the sharing of medical knowledge over a distance using telecommunications. Telemedicine or Tele-health is a term given to offering remote care to people, providing the care and reassurance needed to allow them to remain living healthily in their own homes.
The use of wired or wireless medical sensors may be part of a package, which can provide support for people with serious illnesses or people at risk of falling.
Most Tele-health services mitigate harm by reacting to untoward events and raising a help response quickly. Some Tele-health services, such as safety confirmation and lifestyle monitoring have a preventive function in that deterioration in the user’s well being can be spotted at an early stage.
Tele-care refers to the idea of enabling people to remain independent in their own homes by providing person-centered technologies to support the individual.
In one of its form, it can be referred to a fixed or mobile telephone with a connection to a monitoring center through which the user can raise an alarm. Technologically more advanced systems use sensors, whereby a range of potential risks can be monitored. These may include falls, as well as environmental changes in the home such as floods, fire and gas leaks. When a sensor is activated it sends a radio signal to a central unit in the user’s home, which then automatically calls a 24-hour monitoring center, where trained operators can take appropriate action, whether it be contacting a local key holder, doctor or the emergency services.
Tele-care also comprises of standalone Tele-center which does not send signals to a response center but supports users through providing local (in-house) alerts in a person’s home to let the user know when he / she requires attention.
The interactive nature of communication between the Centre and remote Tele-health clinic / e-clinic, used by our partner organizations (TFHI and TeleCare) is described in the following diagram: