Telemedicine is the delivery of health care and the exchange of health-care information across distances. It is not a technology or a separate or new branch of medicine. Telemedicine episodes may be classified on the basis of: (I) the interaction between the client and the expert (i.e. realtime or prerecorded), and (2) the type of information being transmitted (e.g. text, audio, video). Much of the telemedicine which is now practised is performed in industrialized countries, such as the USA, but there is increasing interest in the use of telemedicine in developing countries. There are basically two conditions under which telemedicine should be considered: (I) when there is no alternative (e.g. in emergencies in remote environments), and (2) when it is better than existing conventional services (e.g. teleradiology for rural hospitals). For example, telemedicine can be expected to improve equity of access to health care, the quality of that care, and the efficiency by which it is delivered. Research in telemedicine increased steadily in the late 1990s, although the quality of the research could be improved - there have been few randomized controlled trials to date.