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J Telemed Telecare. 2017 Dec;23(10):828-834. doi: 10.1177/1357633X17732801.

The use of telemedicine for delivering healthcare in Japan: Systematic review of literature published in Japanese and English languages.

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1 Faculty of Nursing, Hyogo University, Japan.
2 Centre for Online Health, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Australia.
3 Centre for Community based Healthcare and Welfare Professionals, Hyogo University, Japan.
4 Centre for Clinical Research, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Australia.


Background In common with other countries, Japan has an ageing population and geographical impediments to healthcare access. The role of telemedicine within the Japanese health system may be of wide interest, yet it has not been comprehensively explored and documented. Thus, the aim of this study was to systematically review the Japanese and English language literature relating to the clinical use of telemedicine in Japan. Methods For studies published in Japanese, we searched Ichushi and CiNii. For English language publications, we searched Cochrane Library, PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science. All peer-reviewed articles describing the clinical use of telemedicine and published between 2007 and 2016 were included. Data on clinical area, study type, technology used, and type of communication were extracted. Studies were categorised by prevention, screening, diagnosis, surveillance, and treatment. Results The search yielded 1476 records; 26 Japanese language and 15 English language articles were selected for review. A wide range of clinical areas were represented; however, home care and life-style related studies were dominant. More than 50% of studies were related to prevention and early diagnosis. The majority of Japanese studies involved doctor-to-doctor consultation. Smartphones and remote monitoring systems were the main types of technology used. Conclusions Most studies of telemedicine in Japan are published in the Japanese language and are thus relatively inaccessible to the rest of the world; for the first time, this study has provided an overview of the clinical use of telemedicine in Japan. The clinically related papers reflect the Japanese cultural focus on disease prevention.


Japan; clinical use; review; telemedicine

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