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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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7

Information Technology in Alternative Medicine

In the US alone, the market for consumer wireless healthcare products and services are expected to soar from US$ 300 million to 4.4 billion over the four years from 2009 to 2013 (Versel, 2009). Such growth in demand is fueled by the combined effect of telemedicine technology advances and increase in general health awareness. Consumer healthcare technology and alternative medicine will certainly become increasingly important in this regard. Alternative medicine is defined by (Bratman, 1997) as healing practice ‘that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine’. Examples such as acupuncture, biofeedback, herbal medicine, hypnosis, and yoga are collectively referred to as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). It is not difficult to realize that there is one thing in common: they do not entail drug prescription. Most of what we currently use for wireless home healthcare and maintaining fitness match the description of alternative medicine. Many of these provide us with information about our health state and possibly with suggestions of how we can improve our own health. However, almost all of these consumer health monitoring devices provide us with a direct link to medication. In the consumer electronics market, there are many healthcare related products, literately covering the body from head to toe. Some are said to improve a user’s health and metabolism while others claim to keep a user in optimal shape.

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