Observations BMJ Confidential

Waheed Arian: Telemedicine pioneer

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6143 (Published 23 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6143


Waheed Arian, 33, is a radiology specialist registrar in northwest England who has established a telemedicine scheme, Arian Teleheal, whereby UK medics use Skype to advise their clinical colleagues at emergency departments of major hospitals in Afghanistan. Arian was born in Kabul during the Soviet-Afghan conflict and narrowly escaped death many times before making his way to Britain aged 15. He graduated from Cambridge University and gained additional qualifications from Harvard University and the Imperial School of Medicine. He is passionate about using education to help communities across the globe, and this informs the long term goals of his charitable trust.

What was your earliest ambition?

I’ve always wanted to be a doctor.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My father, who has always told me to think big and to believe that, with hard work, almost anything is achievable.

What was the worst mistake in your career?

Life and careers are full of challenges. Learning from each challenge to become a better person is my personal motto.

What was your best career move?

Founding the Arian Teleheal telemedicine charitable trust (www.arianteleheal.com), through which volunteer medics in the UK advise medics in conflict zones about emergency topics, using simple platforms such as Skype and Facebook.

Who was your most grateful patient?

Most patients are grateful in various ways.

Bevan or Hunt? Who has been the best and the worst health secretary in your lifetime?

I wasn’t born when Bevan was health secretary, so I can’t compare the two.

Who is the person you would most like to thank, and why?

My parents, for protecting and looking after me during my childhood of 15 years in the Afghanistan war.

To whom would you most like to apologise?

I’m always thankful for the blessings in my life and apologetic for any mistakes I make.

If you were given £1m what would you spend it on?

Reducing healthcare inequality through our charitable trust.

Where are or were you happiest?

When surrounded by family and friends.

What single unheralded change has made the most difference in your field in your lifetime?

Telemedicine. Please find out more about how we use this through Arian Teleheal.

Do you support doctor assisted suicide?


What book should every doctor read?

My autobiography, which will hopefully be out in 2017, giving an account of my childhood in war and my subsequent determination to succeed in many areas in the UK.

What poem, song, or passage of prose would you like mourners at your funeral to hear?

Hang on—let’s talk about living in peace and happiness for now.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Late night eating while working on creative ideas.

What television programmes do you like?

I don’t watch television regularly.

What is your most treasured possession?

The love of my family.

What, if anything, are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint?

I prefer using public transport.

What personal ambition do you still have?

To reduce healthcare inequality significantly worldwide in the next five years.

Summarise your personality in three words

Hardworking, kind, visionary.

Where does alcohol fit into your life?


What is your pet hate?

My wife leaving the Hoover in awkward places around the house!

What would be on the menu for your last supper?

Qabuli pilau (traditional Afghan cuisine) with our traditional British fish and chips.

Do you have any regrets about becoming a doctor?

I have no regrets about becoming a doctor, scientist, innovator, and pioneer.

If you weren’t in your present position what would you be doing instead?

Working with and helping people in a different way.

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