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Enhancing the Sustainable Goal of Access to Healthcare: Findings from a Literature Review on Telemedicine Employment in Rural Areas

Gabriele Palozzi (), Irene Schettini () and Antonio Chirico ()
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Gabriele Palozzi: Department of Management and Law, University of Rome Tor Vergata, 00133 Rome, Italy
Irene Schettini: Department of Management and Law, University of Rome Tor Vergata, 00133 Rome, Italy
Antonio Chirico: Department of Management and Law, University of Rome Tor Vergata, 00133 Rome, Italy

Sustainability, 2020, vol. 12, issue 8, 1-1

Abstract: Fighting health inequalities is a challenge addressed by the United Nations Strategic Development Goals (UN-SDGs). Particularly, people living in rural areas suffer from a lack of health infrastructure, which would jeopardize their inclusion in universal coverage for specialist care. Delivering valuable healthcare in underserved areas can be achieved through the employment of new technical innovations, such as telemedicine, which improves service delivery processes. Accordingly, this paper discusses how telemedicine strategies have enhanced the sustainability of right of “access to healthcare” in rural areas. Once we derived the sustainability pillars for healthcare from the UN-SDGs 3 and 10 according to the WHO innovation assessment metrics, a PRISMA-based literature review was conducted using the Scopus database. English, peer-reviewed articles/reviews from 1973 to 2019 were considered. The enquiry covers two analyses: (i) quantitative-bibliometric on 2267 papers; and (ii) qualitative-narrative on the 30 most significant papers. Interest about the topic has increased in the last decade following digitalization diffusion. The most productive and collaborative countries are those with huge dimensions and under financial restrictions. From a sustainability-oriented standpoint, telemedicine enhances both emergency and diagnostic healthcare in rural areas by decreasing the cost of services, expanding coverage of specialist cares, and increasing the quality of the outcomes. For health policies, telemedicine can be considered a suitable solution for providing cost-effective and sustainable healthcare.

Keywords: access to healthcare; telemedicine; e-health; rural areas; remote areas; UN-SDG 3; UN-SDG 10; commons; value-based healthcare; health-related performance (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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