The use of the telephone is under-rated in telemedicine. One of the ﬁrst questions when setting up a telemedicine system should be to ask what additional information would be conveyed by a picture and whether it is worth it. It is often observed that there is a lack of evidence for cost-effectiveness in telemedicine. However, it is also true that certain forms of telemedicine, of which the use of the telephone is one, have never been formally evaluated. Yet it would be inconceivable to consider the practice of modern medicine without a telephone. Telephone telemedicine includes the following:
Outpatient follow-up: Simple telephone follow-up of hospital outpatients has been shown to have advantages in some specialties. For example, rheumatology follow-up works well by telephone. Orthopedic assessments can also be done in the same way. Such simple telemedicine techniques appear promising as a method of improving the efficiency of routine hospital-based clinics and deserve wider investigation.
Mental health: Psychiatry assessment and counseling are normally done face-to-face, but can also be carried out by telephone. Many of the standard test instruments have been validated for use by telephone. Psychiatry assessment and treatment are possible through voice interaction with a computer.