What’s the problem?
Multiple meanings of the words ‘telecare’, ‘telehealth’, ‘telemedicine’, etc. abound. Conversely, similar concepts have many names. As a consequence:
- Professionals use their preferred terminology and confuse journalists
- Journalists’ misconceptions spread public confusion
- Speed of adoption of the technology is retarded
- People suffer without appropriate monitoring systems
- Suppliers have to work harder to thrive
- The development of new technologies falters
What’s the solution and where will it come from?
I used to believe that the matter would evolve towards a solution. However, I now see it evolving towards greater confusion. We have reached a situation where a standard, internationally recognised taxonomy and set of definitions needs to be agreed and adopted.
However, it is no one’s responsibility to take on this task. The only organisation that has a broad base of worldwide technology suppliers and which has a remit to develop any international standards (albeit only in the health technology arena at the moment) is the Continua Alliance. It is in the Alliance’s members’ long term interest to tackle this problem.
What role will Telecare Aware play?
During 2008 Telecare Aware will post links to news items that illustrate the problems. I am happy to open up these pages to everyone who is interested in this issue and invite contributions by way of articles and comments. Although I have some views about how words should be applied in this field (see the What is Telecare page, for example) I am more concerned that an international consensus is formed than I am about promoting my particular usage.
Where shall we start?
Start with this excellent blog posting by Guy Dewsbury: The Language of Telecare. It begins: “I am not sure about you, but I think it is time to resurrect the debate about terminology. I have recently been to a number of conferences and at these events people use the words Telecare, Telehealth, Telemedicine and Assistive Technology…
Then move on to this article Telecare, telehealth and assistive technologies – do we know what we’re talking about? Doughty, K et al, published in the Journal of Assistive Technologies (Volume 1 Issue 2, December 2007) and made available to Telecare Aware readers by kind permission of Pavilion Journals (Brighton) Ltd.