Adopting Telemedicine in developing countries

Last Updated: 25 Dec 2020
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ICTs are technologies that have spread widely and are cheaper for use by the general public. Even though information and communication technologies could tackle some of the heath care challenges that face the modern society, the utilization of ICTs is faced by numerous challenges for social as well as historical transformations that are associated with other natural rights.

The case is not different in the field of telemedicine. Telemedicine is an example of ICT that has been used in the world for over forty years. Modern telemedicine applications employ high quality image and video in addition to audio capacities.

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These technologies range form excellent resolution still images to complex teleconferencing apparatus. Recent developments in ICT are encouraging and they include the use of internet, wireless ICT diffusion, and the exchange of medical information electronically in addition to remote consultations.

Infrastructure factures that have an effect on the outcomes of telemedicine include: the national ICT infrastructure in addition to the governments preparedness, approach, as well as policies towards information and communication technology. Technically sophisticated telemedicine applications are currently employed across a wide range of healthcare settings.

This technology allows medical personnel to transmit images through mobile phones and sophisticated wireless devices (Martínez, Villarroel, Seoane, and Pozo 2005, p. 1).

E-Health Policies

Various shareholders of the telemedicine sector have numerous opportunities to become deeply involved in the development policies that affect the industry. Shareholders of this sector include vendors of information technology, manufacturers of medical devices, health care professionals, decision makers and the government.

E-health policies are set in such a way as to improve network capacity, enhance ability of transcending geo-political, social, economic and cultural obstacles.

Policies should be set in such a way as to allow teleconsultation beyond national borders. Patients in addition to medical care professionals should be offered with a chance of seeking evidence based opinion as well as treatment from overseas through teleconsultation (Lee, Mun, Levine and Ro 2000, p. 28).

Capabilities of Health Sector Institution

The modern health care system has undergone numerous modifications in order to meet the ever increasing heath needs of the population. One of the modifications is the implementation of telecommunication in health care. All modifications in the health care sector are carried out with the patient being the center of focus.

Telemedicine and telegraphy are some of the most recent telecommunication strategies that have been incorporated in the health care sector. Currently, digital images of a patient can be sent over a wireless device to a medical personnel and medical consultations carried out over the internet (Tanriverdi and Iacon, 1998, p, 40).

Analysis of Telemedicine Case Studies in Developing Countries

The emergence to telemedicine is associated with the search for communication-oriented solutions to make it easy for rural populations to access medical services. Telemedicine is considered as one of the most appropriate ways through which contemporary medical services can reach the underserved regions (Lee, Mun, Levine, and Ro 2000, p. 16).

Reality has however, gone in a different direction. Extensive studies with telemedicine in developing nations have not yet demonstrated the potential of telemedicine. There are a number of factors that need to be implemented in order that telemedicine services in rural areas become sustainable.

A highly robust organizational strategy needs to be implemented, a radio based system should be erected and resources utilized properly; remote maintenance systems should be implemented; a high technological base should be established; and all information and communication should be satisfied through simple and synchronous systems (Kifle, Salmon, Okoli, and Mbarika 2008, p. 5).

Despite the numerous benefits associated with telemedicine, the program has been slow to come into routine use in both rural and urban zones. Evaluation of the current situation of Telemedicine in rural and urban zone

Telemedicine holds a great hope for health care and medical centers both in rural areas and urban centers. Rural areas in particular have for long been faced by shortage of medical personnel, scarcity of means of transportation in addition to other access issues such as unfavorable weather conditions.

Telemedicine allows for teleconsultation that utilize a variety of technological advancements such as voice over internet, digital images, digital video teleconferencing, in addition to other emergency services (Martínez, Villarroel, Seoane, and Pozo 2005, p. 70).

However, there are various issues that affect the implementation of telemedicine in rural areas. These include: poor infrastructure, limited bandwidth availability in network systems, and scarcity of internet providers.

Telemedicine is not only about the provision of medical care in the rural areas, but it is very beneficial in linking suburban, urban and inner city medical facilities in a network offering intensive medical care services (Richard 2001, p. 3).

Advantages of Using Telemedicine Technologies

An increased use of telemedicine would bring about a number of benefits ranging from enhanced medical care, better utilization of health professionals, increased patients compliance, to enhanced delivery of medical care services outside clinics and hospital setting and in rural as well as the underserved regions.

Telemedicine allows for frequent monitoring of vital sign information rather than using periodic visit by physicians. It also improves care of the elderly, physically incapacitated as well as the home bound patients, because it reduces hospital visits thereby increasing convenience and compliance for incapacitated patients.

As a result it improves general health of the community and population because it reduces exposure to various illnesses from other patients. It also empowers patients in relation to their own health. It is a source of innovative and creative employment in the health care system.

It is a significant strategy of tackling likely future scarcity of medical personnel.  It brings down the rate of death, injuries and infections as a result of medical errors due to inaccurate patient information.

Presence of telemedicine programs in rural areas enhances care by reducing transportation costs; deploying medical professionals and specialists; and through providing medical care delivery regardless of geographical barriers (Hein 2009, p. 9).

Challenges of Adapting Telemedicine

There are numerous challenges to generating dependable evidence concerning the effects of the use of telemedicine. Scrutiny is rarely carried out as a fundamental part of implementation, and as a result resources are not absolutely dedicated to evaluation.

However, there are times when resources are dedicated to scrutiny after implementation, therefore prospective gathering of baseline data is impossible. Retrospective gathering of medical data is faced by numerous hurdles in terms of appropriate source identification in addition to collection techniques.

These issues make difficult the scrutiny of various interventions, even as the actual nature of evaluation of telemedicine presents further difficulties (Brear 2006, p. 24). Besides evaluation, other challenges that face telemedicine, as indicated by Paul, Pearlson and McDaniel (1999, p 281), include: various social, cultural, economic, technical and organizational hurdles that health care systems must deal with before achieving the full benefits of telemedicine.

Other factors that derail the implementation of telemedicine in developing countries are: poor telecommunication and electric power infrastructure; domination in addition to high cost of internet services; lack of government involvement; difficulties in sustaining implementation of telemedicine; substandard organizational strategies; and user discontent  with low band-width as well as delayed response.

Patients, medical professionals and decision makers lack essential knowledge on telemedicine services as well as their potential for medical care. Lack of proper funding is the other challenge that faces telemedicine.

Despite its recommendation by the world health organization telemedicine is yet to be realized as a technical service in many national ministries of health (Kifle, Salmon, Okoli, and Mbarika n.d, p. 3).


It can therefore be concluded that telemedicine is one of the most significant modern medical strategies that can be employed in tackling the numerous health care challenges that face populations living in both urban and rural areas.  Various benefits of telemedicine include: improvement of patient care, reduction of patient transfers to tertiary health centers and providing physicians a good access to tertiary consultation.

Telemedicine improves the general health of the community because it reduces expose to various illnesses from other patients through reduction of hospital visits. There are however, various challenges that are associated with implementation of telemedicine and these include: evaluation challenges, poor telecommunication, misinterpretation of information, and lack of awareness and commitment by the government and decision makers.

Telemedicine is faced by various issues including information technology policies, E-Health policies, and data security policies. Even though there are numerous benefits associated with telemedicine, the program has been slow to come into routine practice both in rural and urban zones.


  1. Brear, M. 2006, Evaluating telemedicine: lessons and challenges, Health Information
  2. Management Journal, Vol 35, no. 2, pp. 24
  3. Hein, M. 2009, Telemedicine: An important force in the transformation of healthcare,
  4. Journal of High Speed Networks, Vol 9, no. 15, pp. 9 –30

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Adopting Telemedicine in developing countries. (2016, Jun 16). Retrieved from

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