Telemedicine in Middle Eastern countries: Progress, barriers, and policy recommendations

Hosam Al-Samarraie, Samar Ghazal, Ahmed Ibrahim Alzahrani, Louise Moody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)
1875 Downloads (Pure)


Background Despite attempts to reform the healthcare delivery system in the Middle East, expectations for its progress have been—and for some still are—somewhat slow. Objective This study reviewed progress in the use and adoption of telemedicine in Middle Eastern countries. The key dimensions affecting the progress of telemedicine in these countries were identified. Method A systematic review of the literature was conducted on 43 peer reviewed articles from 2010 to 2020. The review followed the scientific process of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines of identification, selection, assessment, synthesis, and interpretation of findings. Results The results showed that progress made in the utilization of telemedicine was insufficient and varies across Middle Eastern countries. Certain cultural, financial, organizational, individual, technological, legal, and regulatory challenges were found to prevent telemedicine from being fully used to the point where the full range of medical services can be provided. For example, doctor and patient resistance, poor infrastructure, lack of funding, poor system quality, and lack of information technology training were associated with the low adoption of telemedicine in the region. Conclusion This review provides a number of recommendations that will help policymakers to move toward the integration of innovative technologies in order to facilitate access to health information, health services, and training. It also recommends that health initiatives should focus on health education and health promotion in order to increase public awareness of the benefits of telemedicine services in the region.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104232
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Early online date15 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in International Journal of Medical Informatics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published International Journal of Medical Informatics, 141, (2020) DOI: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2020.104232

© 2020, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • Telehealth
  • Telemedicine
  • e-health
  • Health policy
  • Middle East

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


Dive into the research topics of 'Telemedicine in Middle Eastern countries: Progress, barriers, and policy recommendations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this