Publication date: Sep 18, 2023
The rapid advancement of telehealth technologies has the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery, especially in developing countries and resource-limited settings. Telehealth played a vital role during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting numerous healthcare services. We conducted a systematic review to gain insights into the characteristics, barriers, and successful experiences in implementing telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic in China, a representative of the developing countries. We also provide insights for other developing countries that face similar challenges to developing and using telehealth during or after the pandemic. This systematic review was conducted through searching five prominent databases including PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science. We included studies clearly defining any use of telehealth services in all aspects of health care during the COVID-19 pandemic in China. We mapped the barriers, successful experiences, and recommendations based on the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). A total of 32 studies met the inclusion criteria. Successfully implementing and adopting telehealth in China during the pandemic necessitates strategic planning across aspects at society level (increasing public awareness and devising appropriate insurance policies), organizational level (training health care professionals, improving workflows, and decentralizing tasks), and technological level (strategic technological infrastructure development and designing inclusive telehealth systems). WeChat, a widely used social networking platform, was the most common platform used for telehealth services. China’s practices in addressing the barriers may provide implications and evidence for other developing countries or low-and middle- income countries (LMICs) to implement and adopt telehealth systems.
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