Q: What are some of the main challenges of using telemedicine in rural areas?
A: The most basic challenge is to have a platform for communication to exist. This means reliable and reasonably affordable internet access in the area. Without a convenient way to communicate back and forth, patients need to travel either to a larger town or directly to a healthcare facility, which defeats the purpose of telemedicine.
Q: How can telemedicine operate in such areas in the long term?
A: One persistent challenge is finding ways to train local physicians on how to use the technology properly. Many western nations are supporting telemedicine initiatives in the developing world, but there can be challenges once they set the system up and leave an area. Without some supervision and proper training, the telemedicine might not be adopted quickly enough to gain widespread acceptance. Telemedicine cannot simply replace the current area’s healthcare system; it needs to be complementary and implemented slowly so that all the kinks can be worked out.