Telemedicine services in cardiology are provided by transmitting cardiological information from the patient and referring health professional to the teleconsultant. Appointments with patients and consultations are accompanied by the transmission of electrocardiograms, laboratory test results, echocardiogram and coronarogram, interactive video-consultations including patient examination and review of medical history. The stored information is used for the second opinion and confirmation of diagnoses. 

The reasons to use telecardiology from the point of view of the consultant include:

  1. the need to provide services where it is physically not possible or feasible,
  2. the need to facilitate the provision of health care to chronic patients,
  3. the need to increase productivity by reducing travel time.

A telemedicine access centre can use cardiological telemedicine services in order to:

  1. provide services to the entire local population,
  2. bring specialist services to its area through cooperation,
  3. reduce the migration of patients thanks to the awareness that available and quality services are at their disposal,
  4. reduce unnecessary transport to distant institutions,
  5. provide specialist services,
  6. increase the use of local ancillary services.

Services in the area of emergency (acute) cardiological care include:

  • procedures with patients with acute coronary syndrome, coordination with the doctor on the field, the hospital on duty, and with the catheterization laboratory with a view to potential percutaneous invasive intervention,
  • diagnostic differentiation of patients with atypical chest pains, 
  • assessment of the need to hospitalize patients with:
    • chronic heart failure, now becoming acute,
    • various heart rhythm disorders,
    • chronic coronary diseases,
    • side-effects of cardiac therapy (e.g. anticoagulants),
    • unclear status (e.g.loss of consciousness).

These services can definitely increase the quality of health care of patients with acute coronary condition and may reduce unnecessary costs (medical flights for patients who do not require hospitalization), especially in the second and third groups of services.

The services relating to chronic cardiologic care:

  • consultations for patients with chronic cardiovascular diseases with respect to their therapy, need for particular diagnostic procedures, elective cardio-surgeries, medications in connection with other concomitant diseases,
  • preliminary pre-operative examinations,
  • electrocardiogram reading,
  • reading of dynamic continuous electrocardiographic monitoring,
  • counselling tourists who suffer from a chronic heart disease.

In the Republic of Croatia, there are towns and entire areas without specialist cardiac institutions. If they suffer from cardiologic problems, the inhabitants of these areas have to travel to bigger towns / clinical hospitals. This way they waste a lot of time travelling. Some cardiologic problems require an emergency reaction. When someone has a cardiologic problem (condition) which requires an emergency reaction, and they live in isolated, sparsely populated and poorly connected areas, the possibility of permanent damage increases, and the chances of survival decrease due to the time needed to transport the patient to an institution where proper help and treatment can be provided.

Telemedicine cardiologic services have to enable reaction in emergency (acute) cardiologic conditions by making it possible to recognize such conditions while the patients has not arrived in a specialist cardiologic institution yet. When the patient heads for the institution with specialists, the latter will be able to prepare to receive him and start treating him as soon as he arrives, thus additionally reducing the time until the appropriate intervention/treatment is provided.

Similarly, telemedicine cardiologic services will reduce the number of unnecessary visits to specialist cardiologic institutions because patients will be examined remotely while being in their primary health care institution.