Implementing transnational telemedicine solutions: a connected health project in rural and remote areas of six northern periphery countries
Hayes, Patrick S.
Glynn, Liam G.
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Casey, Monica; Hayes, Patrick S. Heaney, David; Dowie, Lee; ÓLaighin, Gearoid; Matero, Matti; Hun, Soo; Knarvik, Undine; Alrutz, Käte; Eadie, Leila; Glynn, Liam G. (2013). Implementing transnational telemedicine solutions: a connected health project in rural and remote areas of six northern periphery countries. European Journal of General Practice 19 (1), 52-58
This is the first article in a Series on collaborative projects between European countries, relevant for general practice/family medicine and primary healthcare. Telemedicine, in particular the use of the Internet, videoconferencing and handheld devices such as smartphones, holds the potential for further strides in the application of technology for the delivery of healthcare, particularly to communities in rural and remote areas within and without the European Union where this study is taking place. The Northern Periphery Programme has funded the 'Implementing Transnational Telemedicine Solutions' (ITTS) project from September 2011 to December 2013, led by the Centre for Rural Health in Inverness, Scotland. Ten sustainable projects based on videoconsultation (speech therapy, renal services, emergency psychiatry, diabetes), mobile patient self-management (physical activity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease) and home-based health services (medical and social care emergencies, rehabilitation, multi-morbidity) are being implemented by the six partner countries: Scotland, Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway and Sweden. In addition, an International Telemedicine Advisory Service, created for the project, provides business expertise and advice. Community panels contribute feedback on the design and implementation of services and ensure 'user friendliness'. The project goals are to improve accessibility of healthcare in rural and remote communities, reducing unnecessary hospital visits and travel in a sustainable way. Opportunities will be provided for comparative research studies. This article provides an introduction to the ITTS project and how it aims to fulfil these needs. The ITTS team encourage all healthcare providers to at least explore possible technological solutions within their own context.