The University of Salford has carried out a systematic review of the literature to research the effectiveness of telehealth on clinical outcomes, cost effectiveness and patient experience.

Telehealth allows patients to monitor long-term health conditions from home, reducing visits to a clinic or hospital. Patients are able to measure factors such as blood pressure and blood glucose levels, and the readings are automatically transmitted to health professionals who can make decisions about interventions.

A wide-ranging review of existing studies found that telehealth is effective in:

  • Reducing patient mortality and hospital admissions for chronic heart failure
  • Reducing hospital admissions for COPD
  • Reducing blood pressure in hypertension
  • Improving glycaemic control in diabetes
  • Reducing symptoms in asthma

The researchers found that telehealth is as good as usual patient care and that it is fulfilling its promise of increasing access to services, especially in deprived or geographically remote areas.

Patients also appreciate the continuity of care and easier access to professional advice, but there may be a need for considering individual patient requirements in some situations.

Insights gained from Salford’s review of the evidence are:

  • Telehealth systems need to incorporate patient education in order to be more effective. 
  • Implementation of telehealth changes the workflow for health professionals, therefore there is a need to examine the impact of these systems on workflow.
  • Further studies on the usability of telehealth systems need to be conducted if widespread adoption is to be achieved. 

Examining these factors more carefully from all stakeholders’ perspectives may help with the implementation of telehealth. 

The research was supported by an educational grant from Tunstall Healthcare Group.

Christine Smith of the School of Health Sciences said: “Telehealth is valuable because it helps patients to successfully manage their health conditions at home. There are more research opportunities to be explored in this area and we look forward to working with Tunstall on future collaborations.”

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