Remote doctors and absent Patients: acting at a distance in telemedicine?

Mort, Maggie, May, Carl R. and Williams, Tracy (2003) Remote doctors and absent Patients: acting at a distance in telemedicine? Science, Technology, & Human Values, 28, (2), 274-295. (doi:10.1177/0162243902250907).


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According to policy makers, telemedicine offers “huge opportunities to improve the quality and accessibility of health services.” It is defined as diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring, with doctors and patients separated by space (and usually time) but mediated through information and communication technologies. This mediation is explored through an ethnography of a U.K. teledermatology clinic. Diagnostic image transfer enables medicine at a distance, as patients are removed from knowledge generation by concentrating their identities into images. Yet that form of identity allows images and the expert gaze to be brought into potentially lifesaving proximity. Following Latour’s thread, images must be captured and then mobilized to the knowledge base, where they must be stabilized into standard diagnoses, then combined with different images, waiting lists, skin lesions, dermatologists, paper records, and beds, so that ultimately, outcomes are produced. This huge task requires new knowledges and a widening of agency that, if unacknowledged, may see telemedicine projects continue to founder.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1177/0162243902250907
ISSNs: 0162-2439 (print)
1552-8251 (electronic)
Keywords: telemedicine, inscription, affordances, patienthood
Subjects: R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Health Sciences
ePrint ID: 163479
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
April 2003Published
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2010 09:05
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:29

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