A systematic review of the use of telehealth in Asian countries

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


We conducted a systematic review of the literature on telehealth in Asia. The Medline database was searched, together with three specialist journals, for peer-reviewed articles published in the ten years to June 2007 which were related to any telehealth application involving one or more Asian country. Out of the 1504 abstracts retrieved, 109 articles were selected by two independent reviewers for the final review. The number of published articles on telehealth in Asia increased during the review period. The largest number of studies were conducted in Japan (37%). Most telehealth applications were based on the store-and-forward modality (43%), with 35% using videoconferencing and 15% using a hybrid approach. Most of the studies were descriptive (75%) and only eight included a control group against which telehealth was compared. The most common means of telecommunication was ISDN lines, which were employed in 32% of the studies. Some 40% of the studies mentioned improved quality of health care, about 20% mentioned improved access to health care. Although most studies mentioned cost, only 13 of them assessed resource utilization and cost. The overall findings gave a generally optimistic picture of telehealth in Asia. However, there is a lack of good quality studies.


Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare