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The Current State of Telehealth Evidence: A Rapid Review

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Policy makers and practitioners show a continued interest in telehealth's potential to increase efficiency and reach patients facing access barriers. However, telehealth encompasses many applications for varied conditions and populations. It is therefore difficult to draw broad conclusions about telehealth's efficacy.

This rapid review examines recent evidence both about telehealth’s efficacy by clinical area and about telehealth’s impact on utilization. We searched for systematic reviews and meta-analyses of the use of telehealth services by patients of any age for any condition published in English in the period January 2004–May 2018. Twenty systematic reviews and associated meta-analyses are included in this review, covering clinical areas such as mental health and rehabilitation. Broadly, telehealth interventions appear generally equivalent to in-person care. However, telehealth’s impact on the use of other services is unclear. Many factors should be carefully considered when weighing the evidence of telehealth’s efficacy, including modality, evidence quality, population demographics, and point-in-time measurement of outcomes.

Authors: E Shigekawa, M Fix, G Corbett, DH Roby, J Coffman

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