Enabling Globalization of Health Care in the Information Technology Era: Telemedicine and the Medical World Wide Web
Information technology (IT) and accompanying medical breakthroughs may facilitate promising global opportunities for better and more accessible health care. This possibility derives from the border-free characteristic of Internet-based communication, technical advances, and a prominent trend of outsourcing expensive medical services to less expensive, international providers through what might be collectively called "electronic medical tourism." However, full realization of the potential benefits of these trends remains contingent upon harmonizing cross-national requirements and standards. Current legal regimes exert a chilling effect on the development of digital medicine as a global health facilitator for both developing and developed countries. To expedite IT dissemination as a vehicle for global health promotion, a concerted action aimed at establishing an international consortium on Internet-based Medical-WWW is presented, and some of its salient features are discussed along with their legal ramifications. Cyberspace has become a most important territory, and the pace of change requires effective adaptation of health-care law.