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Telemedicine Technologies: Information Technologies in Medicine and Telehealth by C.K. Li, A.C.M. Fong, Bernard Fong

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4

Technologies in Medical Information Processing

We so far have looked at a number of situations where telemedicine and related technologies can save lives where a few decades ago this would have been simply impossible. Telemedicine covers just about all corners of the globe. Its comprehensive range of service facilitates everything from search and rescue operations to general health monitoring. All these involve medical information being captured and converted into the digital domain. Numerous advantages exist for handling digital data instead of leaving everything in the original analog form, as (Haykin, 2006) describes: the ease of transmission, processing and subsequent storage with digital data compared to analogue data manipulation.

So, what do these long strings of ‘0’s and ‘1’s representing medical data have that differ from anything else digital in daily life, like CDs and cameras? One thing in common is that in all these applications, information is sent and processed in binary bits, i.e. we only deal with ‘1’s and ‘0’s. However, the requirements for capturing and handling medical data are quite different from those for general purpose consumer electronics devices. For a start, medical information is often specifically related to a single individual. A person’s medical history must be kept in strict confidence at all times. Compare the consequence of losing a few songs on an MP3 player and losing the analysis results following a medical test. The maximum penalty of the ...

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