Telemedicine in Resource-Limited Setting: Narrative Synthesis of Evidence in Nepalese Context

Noor Kutubul Alam Siddiquee, Anil Poudyal, Ashok Pandey, Namuna Shrestha, Shristi Karki, Ranjeeta Subedi, Arun Kumar Sah, Dirghayu K.C
2020 Smart Homecare Technology and TeleHealth  
The traditional model of health services imposes limitations, especially in resourcelimited countries like Nepal. Introduction to information technology can mitigate various challenges like geographic complexity, urban-rural disparity, poor accessibility, shortage of healthcare professionals, inadequate health facilities, higher cost, and time. Nepal is a resourcelimited country with diverse geographic features making it hard to have proper access to healthcare facilities. Telemedicine service
more » ... as the potential to improve service quality and accessibility of the disadvantaged and underserved population by overcoming the existing challenges. The objective of this review was to explore the roles of telemedicine in vanquishing existing challenges. Seven data sources (namely CINAHL, PubMed, POPLINE, Web of Science, Scopus, DOAJ and Summon) were consulted using five keywords (telemedicine, telehealth, eHealth, mHealth and Nepal to find the literature using the Boolean operator AND) to obtain the relevant materials. The narrative synthesis method was used to review papers and to analyze the findings. This review selected 27 papers for further analysis by scrutinizing 1161 initial search results. The most common features of telemedicine services so far, implemented or piloted in Nepal, were addressing geographic remoteness (21%), a shortage of in healthcare service providers (11%), saving time (11%), addressing challenges of extreme conditions (10%), cost saving (9%), service quality (9%) and real-time services (8%). Some other features of telemedicine were communication, transportation, referral, collaboration, addressing challenges in proper diagnosis and the shortage of health professionals. In a nutshell, the review findings suggested improved service quality, increased collaboration and accessibility and decreased the disparity in comparison with traditional health service models. Although it cannot be said that telemedicine in Nepal has been mainstreamed, yet the appeal is increasing due to its positive impact, especially in rural and hard-to-reach areas where with a lack of healthcare set-up and professionals.
doi:10.2147/shtt.s227854 fatcat:fbvn7ifeqjhopdv67y2wxjd63m