SAGES Telementoring Task Force Project 6 The Difference Between Telemedicine and Surgical Telementoring
Telemedicine is providing a service directly to a patient over distance. Telementoring is a quality initiative for the practicing surgeon and requires three essential elements: 1) An established relationship between the mentor and the mentee. This makes telementoring different from teleconsultation where there is not an established relationship prior to the event, or telemedicine which is the direct interaction between the patient and the expert. In telementoring the skills and knowledge of both mentor and mentee are understood through a relationship developed prior to the telementoring event. 2) Telementoring occurs within an educational framework. Both the mentor and mentee have worked together within this framework and been properly prepared for the mentoring experience. 3) Telementoring is done with a competent mentee. This means that the mentee is completely capable of managing the patient’s disease as if the mentor were not there – just with a different technique or using a different technology. The mentoring session is to help adopt a new technique or technology into clinical practice, but always with a safe fall back plan if anyone is uncomfortable with how the procedure is progressing.