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telemedicine

History of telemedicine

The development of modern telemedicine began with the invention of the telecommunications infrastructure, including the telephone and telegraph. Early on, telemedicine technology was adopted for use in military situations during the Civil War, such as ordering medical supplies or medical consultations. Casualty and injury lists were also delivered via telegraph.

The first example of an electronic medical record transfer occurred in 1948 in Pennsylvania, when radiology images were sent 24 miles between two townships via telephone line. A few years later, Canadian radiologists built on that early application of telemedicine technology and created a teleradiology system for use in and around Montreal. In 1959, clinicians at the University of Nebraska transmitted neurological examinations across campus to medical students using two-way interactive television.

In the early days of telemedicine, health professionals used the burgeoning technology as a way to reach patients living in rural areas. However, the technology quickly expanded into urban areas, especially those that suffered from healthcare shortages. In 1967, physicians at the University of Miami School of Medicine and Miami’s Fire Department transmitted electrocardiographic rhythms over existing voice radio channels from fire-rescue units to the city’s Jackson Memorial Hospital.

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