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Telemedicine in Arab Countries: Innovation, Research Trends, and Way Forward

  • Waqas, Ahmed1
  • Mehmood, Shariq2
  • Jawwad, Arwah Muhammad3
  • Pittam, Bradley4
  • Kundu, Shantanu5
  • Correia, Jorge César6
  • AlMughamis, Nouf7
  • 1 Institute of Population Health, University of Liverpool, Liverpool , (United Kingdom)
  • 2 Lahore General Hospital, Lahore , (Pakistan)
  • 3 School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, National University of Science and Technology, Islamabad , (Pakistan)
  • 4 Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester , (United Kingdom)
  • 5 University of Liverpool School of Medicine, Liverpool , (United Kingdom)
  • 6 Geneva University Hospitals, University of Geneva, Geneva , (Switzerland)
  • 7 Ministry of Health, Kuwait City , (Kuwait)
Published Article
Frontiers in Digital Health
Frontiers Media S.A.
Publication Date
Jan 25, 2021
DOI: 10.3389/fdgth.2020.610837
  • Digital Health
  • Original Research


Background: The progress and innovation in telemedicine within the Middle Eastern countries have not been heavily monitored. Therefore, the present study aims to analyze the scholarly work conducted in the Arab world, using reproducible statistical and scientometric techniques. Methods: An electronic search of Web of Science (core database) had been conducted through use of an extensive search strategy comprising of keywords specific to the Arab region, EMRO countries, telehealth, medical conditions, and disorders. A total yield of 1,630 search results were processed, indexed through July 7, 2020. CiteSpace (5.7.R1, Drexel University, Pennsylvania, USA) is a Java-based application, a user-friendly tool for conducting scientometric analyses. Results: The present analyses found a lack of innovation in the field of digital health in the Arab countries. Many gaps in research were found in Arab countries, which will be discussed subsequently. Digital health research was clustered around themes of big data and artificial intelligence; a lack of progress was seen in telemedicine and digital health. Furthermore, only a small proportion of these publications had principal or corresponding authors from Arab countries. A clear disparity in digital health research in the Arab world was evident after comparing these insights with our previous investigation on telemedicine research in the global context. Conclusion: Telemedicine research is still in its infancy in the Middle Eastern countries. Recommendations include diversification of the research landscape and interdisciplinary collaborations in this area.

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