Telemedicine: Current State and COVID-19 Lessons
The pandemic is a watershed event that has prompted both an evaluation of the achievements of information and communications technology (ICT) and also a re-evaluation of the prospects for developing social processes compatible with ICT. Much has been already been accomplished in Russia and throughout the world. But in the current pandemic, telemedicine is facing new challenges. This article discusses the state of the art in telemedicine and the prospects for its development in the changing conditions wrought by the pandemic. Examples are provided of the solutions that telemedicine can offer in such a difficult period, and the risks due to widespread use of telemedicine are analyzed. The impact of telemedicine is extensive with consequences for technology, management, and law. This article is a multidisciplinary study of telemedicine from the perspective of management and law. The article examines how telemedicine technologies have been implemented and developed, the obstacles to telemedicine’s advance in various countries, and the legislative frameworks that governs it. The article’s interdisciplinary study is based on an integrated methodology which combines: a formal logical approach to analysis of the legislation concerning telemedicine; a comparison of the development of telemedicine across several countries; and a sociological method to identify the attitude of Russian medical staff toward telemedicine and its impact. Although telemedicine has been developed and regulated separately by each country, there are general development trends, such as collection and analysis of electronic health records (EHR), devices and systems to simplify communication between doctors and with chronically ill patients, and others. Legislation is one of the significant barriers to the development of telemedicine in different countries. However, the pandemic has been a catalyst for legislative change, and it is precisely those changes that will eliminate the key problem in telemedicine that beset Russia where telemedicine now resembles separate pieces in a puzzle.