Telemedicine: Norway is leader of the pack

Le Mag Article | 12 Apr 2012
Norway was one of the first countries to take an interest in telemedecine. As it has a very low population density, its inhabitants sometimes have to travel long distances to see a doctor. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that, like other European Union countries, it has an ageing population. Telemedicine has emerged as a suitable response to this situation. 

The focus of Norwegian telemedicine is the town of Tromsø. It is in the north of the country, and contains the Norwegian centre for integrated care and telemedicine (NST), which aims to develop telemedicine in isolated regions and provide distance e-learning for healthcare professionals. This project is being monitored closely by France, with a view to possible adoption of a similar system in France. In particular, it was analyzed in the study "Telemedicine and telehealth in Europe" "Telemedicine and telehealth in Europe", which was carried out by ASIP and the French trade union group for the electric, electronic and communications industry (FIEEC)
This has enabled "real-time telemedicine" services to be developed in Norway. For example, it is used by ambulance personnel in Oslo when dealing with heart problems. There is permanent cardiologist cover in a hospital in Oslo, and the on-call cardiologist receives electrocardiograms that are taken in ambulances. The cardiologist then refers the patient, depending on the nature of the condition and available beds in the city's hospitals.

Telemedicine is not only practised in real time using videoconferencing. It also enables specialists to look at images that are sent from regional hospitals. This can be very useful when monitoring patients with chronic diseases; with this service, the specialist, general practitioner and patient no longer need to be in the same place at the same time.