The taxonomy of telemedicine

Telemed J E Health. 2011 Jul-Aug;17(6):484-94. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2011.0103. Epub 2011 Jun 30.


The purpose of this article is to present a taxonomy for telemedicine. The field has markedly grown, with an increasing number of applications, a variety of technologies, and newly introduced terminology. A taxonomy would serve to bring conceptual clarity to this burgeoning set of alternatives to in-person healthcare delivery. The article starts with a brief discussion of the importance of taxonomy as an information management strategy to improve knowledge sharing, facilitate research and policy initiatives, and provide some guidance for the orderly development of telemedicine. We provide a conceptual context for the proliferation of related concepts, such as telehealth, e-health, and m-health, as well as a classification of the content of these concepts. Our main concern is to develop an explicit taxonomy of telemedicine and to demonstrate how it can be used to provide definitive information about the true effects of telemedicine in terms of cost, quality, and access. Taxonomy development and refinement is an iterative process. If this initial attempt at classification proves useful, subject matter experts could enhance the development and proliferation of telemedicine by testing, revising, and verifying this taxonomy.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Technology / trends*
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical / trends
  • Humans
  • Medical Informatics / trends*
  • Mobile Health Units / trends
  • Telemedicine / classification*
  • Telemedicine / organization & administration
  • Telemedicine / trends
  • Terminology as Topic