Telemedicine--the way ahead for medicine in the developing world

Trop Doct. 2003 Jan;33(1):36-8. doi: 10.1177/004947550303300118.


An e-mail link with the facility to send high-resolution digital images is a cheap and uncomplicated telemedicine method. The Swinfen Charitable Trust helped establish such a link in Patan Hospital Kathmandu, Nepal in March 2000. Over 12 months using this link 42 telemedicine referrals were sent to specialists throughout the world. Referrals were: 36% respiratory medicine; 21% neurology, 21% dermatology; 14% cardiology; 5% nephrology; and 3% radiology--28 had digital pictures attached, of which 96% were of high enough quality on which specialists were able to comment. Thirty-nine replies were received. The average time for a specialist reply was 2 days, and 45% were answered within 24 hours. All replies were judged by independent assessors to be helpful or very helpful for diagnosis, management and education. The assessors decided that in 50% of cases the advice if acted upon would have shortened hospital stay. This pilot study has shown that a low-cost telemedicine link is technically feasible and can be of significant benefit for diagnosis, management and education in a developing world setting.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Developing Countries
  • Electronic Mail*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nepal / epidemiology
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Telemedicine*
  • Trust