In partnership with Mobile Health and
The New Zealand Telehealth Forum

 

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Store and Forward

 

Store-and-forward telemedicine involves collecting clinical information and sending it electronically to another site for evaluation by a specialist at their convenience. Transmitted information typically includes demographic data, medical history, documents such as laboratory reports, and image, video and/or sound files.

The health professional may use a desktop computer or a mobile device, such as a smartphone. Information is transmitted by electronic mail, uploaded to a secure website, or uses a private network.

Store-and-forward consultations are convenient compared to video-conference consultations. They improve access to specialist care and reduce costs to the health system and patients.

  • The patient, the GP and the specialist do not have to be available at the same time—improving efficiency
  • They do not need to travel—participants can be located anywhere
  • Waiting times are reduced—specialist reports are often received within a few hours of the request
  • Second opinions can be obtained rapidly from the most suitable expert
  • Language and cultural barriers are removed
  • Outpatient appointments are freed up for patients that need them
  • Unnecessary prescriptions and surgical procedures are minimised

A disadvantage is that the specialist does not examine the patient directly. It may be necessary to arrange a face-to-face or video consultation at a later date.

Store-and-forward telemedicine activities in New Zealand include:

  • X-rays taken at a remote location or after hours reviewed by a specialist radiologist or physician (teleradiology)
  • Images of a wound taken by a junior doctor in the emergency department and sent to his consultant to obtain advice on acute management
  • Digital images of a patient's skin condition sent by a GP to a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment advice (teledermatology)
  • Nurse-led skin lesion and mole mapping clinics providing high quality images to skin cancer specialists (teledermatoscopy)
  • Images of diabetic retinopathy taken by a technician and reviewed by an ophthalmologist (retinal screening)
  • Pathology images used for a multidisciplinary meeting (telepathology)
  • Patient portals allowing communication between patient and their GP