The impact of telehealth care on escalation to emergency care: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Anna Mae Scott*, Sharon Sanders, Tiffany Atkins, Madeleen van der Merwe, Carla Sunner, Justin Clark, Paul Glasziou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: We compared the impact of accessing healthcare (1) by telehealth (via telephone or video) vs face-to-face; and (2) by telephone vs video telehealth care, on escalation to emergency care.

METHODS: We searched Medline, Embase and Cochrane CENTRAL to 24 July 2023; and conducted a citation analysis on 19 September 2023. We included randomised controlled trials. Risk of bias was assessed using Cochrane Tool 2. We calculated risk ratios for dichotomous outcomes and standardised mean difference for continuous outcomes.

RESULTS: Ten trials compared telehealth (five telephone, four video, one both) to face-to-face care. Six were overall low, three some concerns and one high risk of bias. There were no differences between telehealth and face-to-face for visits to the emergency department (RR 1.07, 95% CI 0.89 to 1.29), hospitalisations up to 12 months (RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.56 to 1.41), deaths or other adverse events. Costs of care were similar, as were patient satisfaction scores.Six trials compared telephone to video telehealth: three were overall low, two some concerns, and one high risk of bias. There were no differences between telephone and video for visits to the emergency department (RR 0.67, 95% CI 0.41 to 1.12), hospitalisations (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.73 to 1.48), deaths, other adverse events, costs, or patient satisfaction. Healthcare provider satisfaction was high.

CONCLUSIONS: Telehealth care - delivered by telephone or by video - may be an appropriate alternative to face-to-face provision of care, as it does not increase the likelihood of escalation of care to the emergency department for patients in primary care, hospital outpatients, post-discharge patients or residents in aged care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jun 2024

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