An Overview of Telemedicine: The Virtual Gaze of Health Care in the Next Century

Abstract

This article considers the role of telemedicine in the production of biomedical health care using three specific theoretical constructs as lenses through which to examine this phenomenon: (1) Foucault’s medical “gaze”; (2) the political economy of health; and (3) deterritorialization and multisite ethnography. This examination focuses first on the changing corporate structure of health care and changing political attitudes toward telemedicine. Second, it documents the current use of telemedicine in prisons, the military, and in cross-cultural settings. Third, it discusses responses to telemedicine of individual physicians, health care staff, and patients, finding that these responses are broadly conditioned by an individual’s mode of articulation with biomedical institutions and that they are mediated by personal experience.