Enhanced Access - Access to good medical care in rural and remote areas has always been problematic. It is cost inefficient to build hospitals in sparsely populated areas because the economics cannot be justified by the number of patients. Added to this, the challenge of finding qualified medical personnel in remote areas is a formidable obstacle in both developed and developing nations.
Undeveloped countries oftentimes have the patient base but have the challenges of personnel and equipment and the maintenance thereof. However, governments of developing nations have as a social goal, the desire to spread healthcare to as wide a swath of the population as possible. Better the general health of populations, the less the spending on overall healthcare.
Telemedicine, in several ways, fulfils a part of this gap. Rural centers can be places with selected diagnostic equipment, staffed by second tier medical staff such as nurses. By being able to connect to a central hospital it allows for a remotely located physician or specialist to advice the patient. While the format of the telemedicine concept may be different in developing and developed countries, the final aim of enhanced accessibility is the same.
Lower Cost - The cost of setting up a telemedicine facility is much less than setting up a fully fledged hospital or care facility. Not only will it require a large investment in resources, qualified personnel to staff them is singularly difficult. As a greater share of the population has access to qualified medical advice, the overall health indices improve leading to lower spending on this sector. This is of particular importance in developing countries where paucity of funds is of prime concern.
Demand - Patients in rural and remote areas that have access to telemedicine services have shown the popularity of such by the volume of use. Telemedicine facilities often times can make diagnoses and determine if a patient has to travel to a higher medical facility for further treatment. This reduces stress on patients and care givers alike. This also reduces costs because if the ailment is minor in nature, the physician can prescribe remedies that would negate the need for travel.
Quality Improvements - Compared to a remote stand alone facility that has no attending physician, a telemedicine set up where a remote contact physician is available increases the quality and cost of care. Several studies have shown this to be true.