Citation: Flodgren G, Rachas A, Farmer A, et al. Interactive telemedicine: effects on professional practice and health care outcomes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015; (9): CD002098
What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a strain on healthcare systems and has resulted in widespread social distancing measures. This makes traditional face-to-face medical care more difficult and existing research on telemedicine may provide information to help with this.
In this Cochrane systematic review, the authors searched for randomised trials comparing interactive telemedicine delivered in addition to, or as an alternative to, usual care versus usual care alone. They did not restrict their search by date or language of publication and did the search in June 2013. They included 93 randomised trials (total: 22,047 participants), and also identified 15 ongoing studies and a further 63 studies that are awaiting assessment.
What was found: Telemedicine was associated with a slight improvement in disease-specific quality of life in patients with heart failure but mortality was similar between those receiving telemedicine and those receiving usual care only.
Interactive telemedicine may improve glucose control and decrease blood pressure and LDL cholesterol in patients with diabetes compared to usual care.
Telemedicine did not affect clinical outcomes in patients requiring mental health services when compared to usual care.
Telemedicine did not affect clinical outcomes in patients requiring a specialist consultation for a dermatological condition when compared to usual care.
Telemedicine did not appear to have any direct impact on health resource utilization when compared to usual care.
What’s uncertain: The effect of telemedicine on hospital admissions is uncertain.
The cost effectiveness of telemedicine and its acceptability by patients and healthcare professionals is uncertain.
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