Telemedicine taxonomy: a classification tool

Telemed J E Health. 2007 Jun;13(3):349-58. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2006.0055.


Telemedicine allows medical doctors and specialized skilled experts to provide services to patients who are in remote locations using advanced telecommunications. This paper presents a taxonomy that systematically classifies various telemedicine efforts worldwide using five major dimensions: application purpose, application area, environmental setting, communication infrastructure, and delivery options. To identify relationships and patterns between these different dimensions telemedicine programs survey data from the Telemedicine Information Exchange (TIE) was analyzed using multiple regression and path analysis. Major findings indicate that interactive video is the most preferred modality. Store-and-forward technology is preferred for ophthalmology, radiology, and pathology. However, a negative correlation exists between store-and-forward and interactive video with mental health application. The study also indicates that the Internet is still not the dominant communications infrastructure when it comes to telemedicine. We showed that these dimensions can capture almost all efforts in telemedicine and also help program planners to understand the issues in telemedicine deployment. Our findings indicate that the taxonomy is useful for categorizing and comparing existing programs, and can be used for planning future programs.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Information Systems / classification
  • Internet
  • Medical Informatics Applications*
  • Medicine
  • Specialization
  • Systems Analysis
  • Telecommunications / classification
  • Telemedicine / classification*
  • Telemedicine / trends
  • Videoconferencing / classification