Telehealth is recognised as a viable way of providing health care over distance, and an effective way to increase access for individuals with transport difficulties or those living in rural and remote areas. While telehealth has many positives for patients, clinicians and the health system, it is important that changes in the delivery of health care (e.g. in-person to telehealth) do not result in inferior or unsafe care. In this review, we collate existing meta-analyses of mortality rates to provide a holistic view of the current evidence regarding telehealth safety.
In November 2020, a search of Pretty Darn Quick Evidence portal was conducted in order to locate systematic reviews published between 2010 and 2019, examining and meta-analysing the effect of telehealth interventions on mortality compared to usual care.
This review summarises evidence from 24 meta-analyses. Five overarching medical disciplines were represented (cardiovascular, neurology, pulmonary, obstetrics and intensive care). Overall, telehealth did not increase mortality rates.
The evidence from this review can be used by decision makers, in conjunction with other disease-specific and health economic evidences, to support and guide telehealth implementation plans.