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The clinical effectiveness of telehealth: A systematic review of meta-analyses from 2010 to 2019


The clinical effectiveness of telehealth: A systematic review of meta-analyses from 2010 to 2019

J Telemed Telecare. 2021 Jun 29:1357633X211022907. doi: 10.1177/1357633X211022907. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: To promote telehealth implementation and uptake, it is important to assess overall clinical effectiveness to ensure any changes will not adversely affect patient outcomes. The last systematic literature review examining telehealth effectiveness was conducted in 2010. Given the increasing use of telehealth and technological developments in the field, a more contemporary review has been carried out. The aim of this review was to synthesise recent evidence associated with the clinical effectiveness of telehealth services.

METHODS: A systematic search of ‘Pretty Darn Quick’-Evidence portal was carried out in November 2020 for systematic reviews on telehealth, where the primary outcome measure reported was clinical effectiveness. Due to the volume of telehealth articles, only systematic reviews with meta-analyses published between 2010 and 2019 were included in the analysis.

RESULTS: We found 38 meta-analyses, covering 10 medical disciplines: cardiovascular disease (n = 3), dermatology (n = 1), endocrinology (n = 13), neurology (n = 4), nephrology (n = 2), obstetrics (n = 1), ophthalmology (n = 1), psychiatry and psychology (n = 7), pulmonary (n = 4) and multidisciplinary care (n = 2). The evidence showed that for all disciplines, telehealth across a range of modalities was as effective, if not more, than usual care.

DISCUSSION: This review demonstrates that telehealth can be equivalent or more clinically effective when compared to usual care. However, the available evidence is very discipline specific, which highlights the need for more clinical effectiveness studies involving telehealth across a wider spectrum of clinical health services. The findings from this review support the view that in the right context, telehealth will not compromise the effectiveness of clinical care when compared with conventional forms of health service delivery.

PMID:34184580 | DOI:10.1177/1357633X211022907

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