The COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, proliferated worldwide, leading to a pandemic. Many governmental and non-governmental organisations and research institutes are contributing to the COVID-19 fight to control the pandemic.
Numerous telehealth applications have been proposed and adopted during the pandemic to combat the spread of the disease. To this end, powerful tools such as artificial intelligence (AI)/robotic technologies, tracking, monitoring, consultation apps and other telehealth interventions have been extensively used. However, there are several issues and challenges that are currently facing this technology.
The purpose of this scoping review is to analyse the primary goal of these techniques; document their contribution to tackling COVID-19; identify and categorise their main challenges and future direction in fighting against the COVID-19 or future pandemic outbreaks.
Four digital libraries (ACM, IEEE, Scopus and Google Scholar) were searched to identify relevant sources. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) was used as a guideline procedure to develop a comprehensive scoping review. General telehealth features were extracted from the studies reviewed and analysed in the context of the intervention type, technology used, contributions, challenges, issues and limitations.
A collection of 27 studies were analysed. The reported telehealth interventions were classified into two main categories: AI-based and non-AI-based interventions; their main contributions to tackling COVID-19 are in the aspects of disease detection and diagnosis, pathogenesis and virology, vaccine and drug development, transmission and epidemic predictions, online patient consultation, tracing, and observation; 28 telehealth intervention challenges/issues have been reported and categorised into technical (14), non-technical (10), and privacy, and policy issues (4). The most critical technical challenges are: network issues, system reliability issues, performance, accuracy and compatibility issues. Moreover, the most critical non-technical issues are: the skills required, hardware/software cost, inability to entirely replace physical treatment and people’s uncertainty about using the technology. Stringent laws/regulations, ethical issues are some of the policy and privacy issues affecting the development of the telehealth interventions reported in the literature.
This study provides medical and scientific scholars with a comprehensive overview of telehealth technologies’ current and future applications in the fight against COVID-19 to motivate researchers to continue to maximise the benefits of these techniques in the fight against pandemics. Lastly, we recommend that the identified challenges, privacy, and security issues and solutions be considered when designing and developing future telehealth applications.