The technical and interpersonal aspects of telemedicine: effects on doctor-patient communication

J Telemed Telecare. 2003;9(1):1-7. doi: 10.1258/135763303321159611.


The influence of telemedicine on the nature and content of doctor-patient communication stems from both its technical and its interpersonal aspects. While the technical aspects are concerned with the communication technologies used and the clinical processes enabled by those technologies, the interpersonal aspects are concerned with relationships between system personnel, providers and patients, and the way in which those relationships are organized. On the one hand, this paper posits that the influence of the technical environment stems from depersonalization of the doctor-patient relationship, participatory enhancements and impediments, and sensory and non-verbal limitations. On the other hand, it posits that the influence of the interpersonal environment stems from third-party participation, social and professional distancing, and underdeveloped norms and standards. A combined positivist and interpretivist evaluation strategy would enable researchers to make better-informed connections between telemedicine, medical encounter behaviour and health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Patient Participation
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Technology / instrumentation
  • Telemedicine*