Policy Studies Competition Policy

Telemedicine: Lessons for–and from–emerging technology policy

Key Points

Telemedicine exemplifies the ways in which new technologies can bring real benefits to the public, if it is allowed to grow and develop rather than being delayed by regulation.
Ways in which policymakers have tried to unburden telemedicine from undue regulation, such as complex webs of medical licensing, hold lessons for other emerging technologies like highly autonomous vehicles.

Future directions for telemedicine can also learn from policy solutions developed for other emerging technologies, such as data privacy and security practices.

Telemedicine demonstrates that hypothetical concerns—imperfect diagnoses, loss of personal relationships—are fixed as the technology evolves or become unimportant as the technology shifts public norms. By contrast, benefits are often unexpected and unpredictable—the value of telemedicine to prison inmates or schoolchildren, for example, are perhaps obvious in hindsight but certainly were not as clear before the technology became reasonably common. Telemedicine thus serves as a valuable data point that, in the long run, regulatory openness to new developments ultimately pays dividends.







Image credit: verbaska

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