Background: Telemedicine offers a multitude of potential advantages, such as enhanced health care accessibility, cost reduction, and improved patient outcomes. The significance of telemedicine has been underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic, as it plays a crucial role in maintaining uninterrupted care while minimizing the risk of viral exposure. However, the adoption and implementation of telemedicine have been relatively sluggish in certain areas. Assessing the level of interest in telemedicine can provide valuable insights into areas that require enhancement. Objective: The aim of this study is to provide a comprehensive analysis of the level of public and research interest in telemedicine from 2017 to 2022 and also consider any potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Google Trends data were retrieved using the search topics "telemedicine" or "e-health" to assess public interest, geographic distribution, and trends through a joinpoint regression analysis. Bibliographic data from Scopus were used to chart publications referencing the terms "telemedicine" or "eHealth" (in the title, abstract, and keywords) in terms of scientific production, key countries, and prominent keywords, as well as collaboration and co-occurrence networks. Results: Worldwide, telemedicine generated higher mean public interest (relative search volume=26.3%) compared to eHealth (relative search volume=17.6%). Interest in telemedicine remained stable until January 2020, experienced a sudden surge (monthly percent change=95.7%) peaking in April 2020, followed by a decline (monthly percent change=-22.7%) until August 2020, and then returned to stability. A similar trend was noted in the public interest regarding eHealth. Chile, Australia, Canada, and the United States had the greatest public interest in telemedicine. In these countries, moderate to strong correlations were evident between Google Trends and COVID-19 data (ie, new cases, new deaths, and hospitalized patients). Examining 19,539 original medical articles in the Scopus database unveiled a substantial rise in telemedicine-related publications, showing a total increase of 201.5% from 2017 to 2022 and an average annual growth rate of 24.7%. The most significant surge occurred between 2019 and 2020. Notably, the majority of the publications originated from a single country, with 20.8% involving international coauthorships. As the most productive country, the United States led a cluster that included Canada and Australia as well. European, Asian, and Latin American countries made up the remaining 3 clusters. The co-occurrence network categorized prevalent keywords into 2 clusters, the first cluster primarily focused on applying eHealth, mobile health (mHealth), or digital health to noncommunicable or chronic diseases; the second cluster was centered around the application of telemedicine and telehealth within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conclusions: Our analysis of search and bibliographic data over time and across regions allows us to gauge the interest in this topic, offer evidence regarding potential applications, and pinpoint areas for additional research and awareness-raising initiatives.

Public and Research Interest in Telemedicine From 2017 to 2022: Infodemiology Study of Google Trends Data and Bibliometric Analysis of Scientific Literature

Andrea Maugeri;Martina Barchitta;Guido Basile;Antonella Agodi
2024-01-01

Abstract

Background: Telemedicine offers a multitude of potential advantages, such as enhanced health care accessibility, cost reduction, and improved patient outcomes. The significance of telemedicine has been underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic, as it plays a crucial role in maintaining uninterrupted care while minimizing the risk of viral exposure. However, the adoption and implementation of telemedicine have been relatively sluggish in certain areas. Assessing the level of interest in telemedicine can provide valuable insights into areas that require enhancement. Objective: The aim of this study is to provide a comprehensive analysis of the level of public and research interest in telemedicine from 2017 to 2022 and also consider any potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Google Trends data were retrieved using the search topics "telemedicine" or "e-health" to assess public interest, geographic distribution, and trends through a joinpoint regression analysis. Bibliographic data from Scopus were used to chart publications referencing the terms "telemedicine" or "eHealth" (in the title, abstract, and keywords) in terms of scientific production, key countries, and prominent keywords, as well as collaboration and co-occurrence networks. Results: Worldwide, telemedicine generated higher mean public interest (relative search volume=26.3%) compared to eHealth (relative search volume=17.6%). Interest in telemedicine remained stable until January 2020, experienced a sudden surge (monthly percent change=95.7%) peaking in April 2020, followed by a decline (monthly percent change=-22.7%) until August 2020, and then returned to stability. A similar trend was noted in the public interest regarding eHealth. Chile, Australia, Canada, and the United States had the greatest public interest in telemedicine. In these countries, moderate to strong correlations were evident between Google Trends and COVID-19 data (ie, new cases, new deaths, and hospitalized patients). Examining 19,539 original medical articles in the Scopus database unveiled a substantial rise in telemedicine-related publications, showing a total increase of 201.5% from 2017 to 2022 and an average annual growth rate of 24.7%. The most significant surge occurred between 2019 and 2020. Notably, the majority of the publications originated from a single country, with 20.8% involving international coauthorships. As the most productive country, the United States led a cluster that included Canada and Australia as well. European, Asian, and Latin American countries made up the remaining 3 clusters. The co-occurrence network categorized prevalent keywords into 2 clusters, the first cluster primarily focused on applying eHealth, mobile health (mHealth), or digital health to noncommunicable or chronic diseases; the second cluster was centered around the application of telemedicine and telehealth within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conclusions: Our analysis of search and bibliographic data over time and across regions allows us to gauge the interest in this topic, offer evidence regarding potential applications, and pinpoint areas for additional research and awareness-raising initiatives.
2024
COVID-19
Google
Google Trends
accessibility
awareness
bibliometric
cost
cost reduction
data spanning
digital medicine
eHealth
mobile health
noncommunicable disease
policy decision
telemedicine
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/606869
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