What is telemedicine?
Telemedicine is the remote delivery of health services. There is a remote transfer of information between two sides: either between a patient and a doctor or between health care professionals. Telemedicine changes the traditional way of providing health services by bringing patients and specialist doctorsface-to-face, whether they are hundreds of kilometres away or just round the corner.

How does telemedicine function?
The Croatian Institute of Telemedicine ensures the delivery of telemedicine services within the basic network of telemedicine centres which is adopted by the Minister of Health.

The use of cutting-edge information and communication technologies, including a camera, a screen and medical diagnostic devices, makes it possible to simultaneously connect patients and specialist doctors, regardless of the distance between them. The health services that can be provided are medical examinations, diagnostics with special medical equipment and therapy.

The Croatian Institute of Telemedicine helps to bring health care closer to your home for you and your family. While a particular health service is being provided, specialist doctors from different locations in Croatia can join. Your family members or friends can accompany you, which would be impossible in other situations.

Is telemedicine a separate specialty?
Telemedicine is not a separate medical specialty. It rather represents an efficient way of exchanging information which can be used by different medical specialties, such as radiology, neurology, cardiology, dermatology, psychiatry, psychology, emergency medicine, etc. The reliability of an examination conducted thanks to telemedicine is the same as during a physical, personal arrival to a specialist’s surgery.

What are the advantages of telemedicine?
Nowadays,due to increased health care costs and demographic changes characterized by an aging population, there is a need to reform the health care system on the global level. The reforms are primarily aimed at ensuring the availability of health care, reducing costs and improving quality or at least maintaining it within the existing limits.

The goal of introducing telemedicine is to reduce health care costs through a faster transfer of information, by sending information about the patient instead of him/her, and to reduce time required for intervention. In addition to advantages in direct treatment of patients, a better cooperation among doctors is ensured, as well as doctors’ professional development, resulting in a better service and an improved quality of the entire health care system.

The main advantages of telemedicine are the following:

  • availability of premium specialist health services for everyone, even in isolated and hard-to-reach areas, which is of special importance in emergency cases,
  • the procedure is made easier for patients, who are not exposed to unnecessary efforts,
  • the cooperation is ensured between a general practitioner and a specialist doctor while providing care for the patient, which contributes to the quality of work on both sides,
  • significant saving in health: travel expenses of chronic patients are reduced, days of sick leave are decreased thanks to the timely provision of health services, the need for arrival of a specialist doctor is reduced, medications are used in a more cost-effective manner,
  • the introduction of telemedicine services makes the Republic of Croatia a potential provider of telemedicine services to other countries too,
  • by increasing the quality of the overall health care, these areas become more attractive to tourists of all ages, which represents a potential for additional tourist promotion and opens up opportunities to increase income in these areas.

Among numerous benefits brought by telemedicine, patients and doctors most frequently quote the following:

  • timely diagnosis and therapy,
  • improved health outcomes,
  • decreased number of trips, saving time and costs.

Who makes up a base at remote locations?
A medical doctor, a nurse or a medical radiology engineer. The bases are called telemedicine access centres where regular, supervisory and emergency health services are provided, depending on available facilities.

Who pays for a telemedicine examination?
All expenses are paid by the Croatian Health Insurance Fund, except for the obligatory participation of the insured person in health care expenses.

Are confidentiality principles and patient privacy protection respected?
A telemedicine examination is private and confidential, just like any regular medical examination. The information may be seen and heard only by the patient and a person accompanying him/her, if any, and health care professionals involved in the examination. The technology used by the Croatian Institute of Telemedicine transfers data between the users in urban, rural and hard to reach areas in a secure manner. 

What does a telemedicine examination look like?
A telemedicine examination is just like a regular medical examination with your doctor, except that you will see the specialist and communicate with him/her via a screen and a camera. You will be able to see and hear the remote specialist doctor, just like she/he will see and hear you. The specialist with whom you have an appointment will have received the most important information about you before your arrival; however, you might have to bring your medications or medical reports. During your telemedicine examination, there will be a health care professional present all the time. The latter has been trained to work with telemedicine equipment because he/she will explain your health condition to the remote specialist doctor using the specific medical equipment required for your particular examination.

What are the existing telemedicine centres and available services:
the Network of telemedicine centres

Who ensures the availability of telemedicine specialist health services?

The Croatian Institute of Telemedicine is a public, umbrella and professional institution founded with the aim of promoting and using new techniques and technologies in remote diagnostics and treatment in the Republic of Croatia in accordance with the Act on Amendments to the Health Care Act.

The goals of the Croatian Institute of Telemedicine are the following:

  • the improved quality, availability and efficiency of health care,
  • continuing professional development of health care professionals on islands and in rural and hard-to-reach areas, access to professional content and cooperation among colleagues,
  • more cost-effective use of medications,
  • reduced health care costs.