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.

Legal bases of telemedicine:

In the course of its operations, the Croatian Institute of Telemedicine drew up the proposal of legal regulations for telemedicine – the Ordinance on the conditions, organization and manner of practising telemedicine. The Ordinance regulates the areas of responsibility of the provider and recipient of telemedicine services, sets minimum conditions for ensuring the quality of telemedicine services, defines basic concepts in telemedicine, explains the work organization in telemedicine and regulates the issuing of licences topracticeto telemedicine centres and health care professionals.

Proposal for list of charges for telemedicine services:

After legal regulations were drawn up, the prerequisites were created to apply a model for charging for telemedicine services and of their prices. Its basic part was incorporated in the Ordinance, together with the manner of concluding contracts. The charging model has been harmonized with the standard procedures of the Croatian Health Insurance Fundfor charging for health services and submitted to the Croatian Health Insurance Fund as a request.The latter agreed to the proposed model of charging and the prices of telemedicine services, and the procedure for their acceptance is under way. This will eventually lead to their becoming an integral part of the system of charging for health services. The charging model and prices of telemedicine services contain all the charging models required in the health system of the Republic of Croatia as prescribed by the Croatian Health Insurance Fund.

Existing activities of the Croatian Institute of Telemedicine within the basic network of telemedicine centres in the Republic of Croatia

The Croatian Institute of Telemedicine enables the delivery of telemedicine services within the network of telemedicine centres, which is composed of telemedicine specialist centres and telemedicine access centres. They are subdivided into a basic network of telemedicine centres and an expanded network of telemedicine centres:

  • The basic network of telemedicine centres ensures an equal availability of health services in the entire territory of the Republic of Croatia. It is financed by the Ministry of Health and the Croatian Institute of Telemedicine. The funds are ensured in the State Budget of the Republic of Croatia allocated for the Ministry of Health, whose integral part is the budget of the Croatian Institute of Telemedicine.
  • The expanded network of telemedicine centres comprises companies that provide health care, experts from different medical branches, private health care professionals and others.

Professional development of health care professionals(e-Training)

One segment of work of the Croatian Institute of Telemedicine includes the organization and coordination of e-Training of all health care professionals in remote and hard to reach areas. Training comprises a selection of topics with an emphasis on the practical side and the application of acquired knowledge. In 2009, there were 9 series of lectures on cardiology, epidemiology, dermatology and public health. In 2010, a total of 19 lectures were held, including the topics from neurology, infectology, pharmacology, psychiatry, surgery, naval medicine and care of patients in helicopters.

The Croatian Institute of Telemedicine carries out electronic training (e-Training) of health care professionals at remote locations in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the Croatian Health Insurance Fund and other competent institutions in the Republic of Croatia.

More than 3100 health care professionals have participated in e-Training. At their request, a plan of lectures for 2010 and 2011 was prepared. Professional development is coordinated by the Croatian Medical Chamber and the Croatian Nursing Council,which both award points for participation in e-Training. The Croatian Institute of Telemedicine does not charge any fees, and there are no additional costs since training takes place at the listeners’ location.

The goal of the Croatian Institute of Telemedicine is to establish a programme of permanent professional development of health care professionals on islands and in rural and hard to reach areas, thus facilitating their access to professional contents in view of their difficult working conditions. The implementation of this programme helps to boost the confidence of health workers, removes doubt, decreases insecurity during work, increases readiness and introduces the most up-to-date methods in health care, with an emphasis on emergency medicine. By achieving the mentioned goals and increasing the efficiency and availability of health care, the quality of life of patients improves.