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Abstract

Delivery of healthcare services presents many challenges for governments in most developing countries. Some of these challenges include financial and human resources issues that might affect governments' ability to manage and transform scarce resources to meet healthcare needs. Telemedicine, a healthcare delivery technology where physicians examine patients from distant locations using information technologies, is reported to be increasingly helpful in meeting the needs of the healthcare sector in developing nations such as those in sub-Saharan Africa. This conceptual study reports on the sectoral adoption of telemedicine in Ethiopia, a sub-Saharan African country. We examine the potential benefits of telemedicine diffusion in Ethiopia, addressing the country's healthcare needs, and discussing the obstacles and challenges. Based on previous literature, as well as experiences drawn from other developing nations, we address three potential factors that could influence the diffusion of telemedicine in Ethiopia: active participation of institutions of higher education, Ethiopian foreign alliances, and government involvement. Although the initial successes are relatively small and involve isolated projects, they have been promising and have set the stage for researchers to investigate prevailing projects so as to gain better understanding of the aforementioned factors. Our study does not claim that telemedicine can solve all of Ethiopia's medical challenges; however, we contend that it is a starting point to reach Africans that live in areas with limited medical facilities and personnel. Hence, our study could have far reaching implications as the world looks to help this country, and by extension, other developing countries, to overcome their medical challenges and join the information society.

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