The integration of medical information systems (e.g., telemedicine and electronic health records) between and within health organizations provides the connective tissue for holistic health care. This connective tissue is necessary and vital to expanding health care organization networks and the potential emergence of “Big Med” with a focus on “delivering a range of services to millions of people
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013 , 10 6481 at a reasonable cost and with a consistent level of quality” . Virtual medical centers which serve multiple states and telehealth networks that deliver services from any point on the network to any other point (as opposed to a central hub delivering services to a spoke site) are the incipient telemedicine substance of this connective tissue . To meet the current demands of health care policies and business models that focus on health networks, cost reduction, and improved health outcomes, telemedicine must be part of the health care portfolio to bring quality treatment to patients despite physical location. With the U.S. barriers that have inhibited the widespread adoption of telemedicine crumbling, we are at a pivotal point in telemedicine use and adoption where tactical deployment can lead to better health care, lower costs, and more equity in healthcare delivery in the U.S. Acknowledgments We acknowledge those in the audience that asked questions of the HITECH panel at International Conference on Information Systems and subsequent inquiries regarding that presentation for inspiring the development of this article. Conflicts of Interest The authors declare no conflict of interest. References 1. Sood, S.; Mbarika, V.; Jugoo, S.; Dookhy, R.; Doarn, C.R.; Prakash, N.; Merrell, R.C. What is telemedicine? A collection of 104 peer-reviewed perspectives and theoretical underpinnings. Telemed. e-Health 2007 , 13 , 573–590. 2. Ackerman, M.J.; Filart, R.; Burgess, L.P.; Lee, I.; Poropatich, R.K. Developing next-generation telehealth tools and technologies: Patients, systems, and data perspectives. Telemed. e-Health 2010 , 16 , 93–95. 3. Norris, A.C. Essentials of Telemedicine and Telecare ; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: New York, NY, USA, 2001. 4. Darkins, A.W.; Cary, M.A. Telemedicine and Telehealth: Principles, Policies, Performance, and Pitfalls ; Springer Publishing Company, Inc.: New York, NY, USA, 2000. 5. Rashid, L. Bashshur compelling issues in telemedicine. Telemed. e-Health 2013 , 19 , 330–332. 6. Buntin, M.B.; Jain, S.H.; Blumenthal, D. Health information technology: Laying the infrastructure for national health reform. Health Aff. 2010 , 29 , 1214–1219. 7. Fisher, E.S. Building a medical neighborhood for the medical home. N. Engl. J. Med. 2008 , 359 , 1202–1205. 8. American Telemedicine Association. Comment Letter to Dr. Donald M. Berwick, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, on Accountable Care Organization Proposed Regulations ; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: Washington, DC, USA, 2011; pp. 1–6.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013 , 10 6482 9. Bashshur, R.L.; Shannon, G.W.; Krupinski, E.A.; Grigsby, J.; Kvedar, J.C.; Weinstein, R.S.; Sanders, J.H.; Rheuban, K.S.; Nesbitt, T.S.; Alverson, D.C.; et al . National telemedicine initiatives: Essential to healthcare reform. Telemed. e-Health 2009 , 15 , 600–610.
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