Sauerbruch, STARPAHC, and SARS: Historical Perspectives on Readiness and Barriers in Telemedicine

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AIM: Telemedicine is a promising solution to extend traditional health care services. Even though mainly discussed during the past two decades, its roots go back into the past century and even further, considering the use of bonfires to warn other villages of diseases. Insights from historical cases can therefore be useful for the ongoing discussion regarding the successful implementation of telemedicine.

SUBJECT AND METHODS: We analyzed three historical telemedicine cases (varying regarding time and place) and extracted their success factors and barriers as well as assessed their maturity by using the Telemedicine Community Readiness Model (TCRM). Evidence-based categories of success factors and barriers as well as the TCRM's dimensions were used as deductive categories to analyze the study material's content.

RESULTS: The analysis showed that the readiness for telemedicine is higher when the technology is the only option to access health care services. In all three cases, core readiness played a central role. However, the health sector, existing technology, and finance were barriers present at all times, while during pandemics, some barriers are only temporarily removed, for example, by putting legal issues on hold. The analyzed cases were all on lower levels of maturity as they mainly represent pilot tests or exceptional circumstances.

CONCLUSION: Results indicate the important core functions in telemedicine initiatives as well as the diversity of their circumstances. Insights from such historical meta-perspectives can, for example, help to strengthen the sustainability of the increased use of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic and scale up current telemedicine projects.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
Journal Journal of public health : from theory to practice
Issue number30(1)
Publication statusPublished - 2022

External IDs

PubMedCentral PMC7987372
Scopus 85103212047


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