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Telemedicine technologies and practices have been under development in the U.S. for more than 35 years. The last 10 years have witnessed a major growth. Ten years ago there were three active telemedicine programs in the U.S. Today, there are more than 150. Digital technologies allow higher speed information transmission and miniaturization of many previously bulky and expensive systems. Through thesis researchers have highlighted a number of important factors that impact the implementation and success of telemedicine technologies, such as patient acceptance, and regulatory policies.
Images and sound can be transmitted across digital phone lines and high resolution diagnostic images can be sent for consultative opinion instantaneously. Heart and lung sounds can be heard by a specialist hundreds of miles from the patient. While not yet "cheap", many telemedicine technologies are affordable enough to be purchased and used by many smaller and more rural health care facilities. Some technologies are even affordable enough to place in patients' homes.
Telehealth technologies were once used only by physicians, and then only sparsely. Today nurses, physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, counselors and many other health care professionals provide their services directly to patients through telemedicine.
The Iowa Communications Network (ICN), a statewide fiber optic network built and operated by the State of Iowa, provides the telecommunications services for the MRTC.











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Last updated: January 2001