The evolution of surgical telementoring: current applications and future directions
Surgical telementoring is a concept within telemedicine that involves the use of information technology to provide real-time guidance and technical assistance for surgical procedures from an expert physician at a different geographical location. It is a means to overcome the logistic obstacles associated with traditional mentoring and can aid in the distribution of advanced surgical techniques. In addition to its perceived educational benefits, it has the potential to directly impact patient care by providing immediate access to specialized surgical expertise in areas lacking access to qualified surgeons. With advances in technology, surgical telementoring has made significant strides in the past two decades and a breadth of positive experiences have been published in the literature. Despite this growth, questions remain regarding ideal videoconferencing methodology, resolution and latency requirements, security and liability issues, and telementoring in combination with emerging technology. This review addresses the history and progression, current applications, and future directions of surgical telementoring as a means to distribute advanced surgical expertise around the world.