Telemedicine in California: Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities

Barbara Johnston and Neil A. Solomon

This report examines the evolution of telemedicine in California and identifies the technological, financial, regulatory, and user-related hurdles that may be stifling further progress.

July 2008

Telemedicine — the use of telecommunications and information technologies to provide health care remotely — has the potential to improve health care by bridging time and distance barriers, reducing delivery costs, and altering referral patterns among physicians. Yet although telemedicine has been around for a number of years, and despite the success of telemedicine programs in rural pockets of California, its use in the state is not widespread.

This report examines the evolution of telemedicine in California and identifies the technological, financial, regulatory, and user-related hurdles that may be stifling further progress. It finds that while some patients have benefited from early innovators who transformed inventive technology projects into statewide telemedicine programs and e-health networks, the impediments to broader adoption remain daunting.

Although the authors acknowledge the persistence of such barriers, they also suggest that given the explosive growth in Internet use, the expansion of remote communication models, and the relentless pressure to cut the cost of care delivery, the time may finally be ripe for telemedicine. The report concludes by exploring questions about the key factors that could affect the proliferation of telemedicine in California.

The complete report is available under Document Downloads.