Developing countries are exploring the role of telehealth to overcome the challenges of providing adequate health care services. However, this process faces disparities, and no complementarity in telehealth policy development. Telehealth has the potential to transcend geopolitical boundaries, yet telehealth policy developed in one jurisdiction may hamper applications in another. Understanding such policy complexities is essential for telehealth to realize its full global potential. This study investigated 12 East Asian countries that may represent a microcosm of the world, to determine if the telehealth policy response of countries could be categorized, and whether any implications could be identified for the development of complementary telehealth policy. The countries were Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Three categories of country response were identified in regard to national policy support and development. The first category was "None" (Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam) where international partners, driven by humanitarian concerns, lead telehealth activity. The second category was "Proactive" (China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand) where national policies were designed with the view that telehealth initiatives are a component of larger development objectives. The third was "Reactive" (Hong Kong and Japan), where policies were only proffered after telehealth activities were sustainable. It is concluded that although complementarity of telehealth policy development is not occurring, increased interjurisdictional telehealth activity, regional clusters, and concerted and coordinated effort amongst researchers, practitioners, and policy makers may alter this trend.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.