Don’t be put off by the title…take II (and take your pick II)

Following on from yesterday’s post entitled “Don’t be put off by the title, or the conclusion, of this review of reviews“, Mike Clark has kindly pointed me towards another recent review of telehealth reviews entitled “Telehealth – the effects on clinical outcomes, cost effectiveness and the patient experience: a systematic overview of the literature”, this time from Salford University, authored by Dr Alison Brettle, Tamara Brown, Professor Nicolas Hardiker, Jon Radcliffe and Christine Smith.

This paper provides an intriguing contrast to the paper reviewed yesterday in a couple of, doubtless unrelated, ways. Firstly, whilst the word that was the subject of yesterday’s post does not appear in the title (it does appear in the text), the paper was funded by an educational grant from the organisation most often associated with that word. Secondly, the review is noticeably more positive, for example:

“There is more evidence for some conditions than others, but on the whole the trends are largely positive suggesting 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 and reducing symptoms in asthma”

As with our two recent posts on Birmingham OwnHealth, it looks like it’s take your pick time again.

It is perhaps just worth adding that there are also significant similarities between some of the observations made in both papers, most notably about the small size of many trials, inconsistent collection of outcome measures and the weaknesses of the methodologies currently used for assessing the effectiveness of trials of medical devices.

Don’t be put off by the title, or the conclusion, of this review of reviews

Whenever I see the word “telehealthcare” I feel there should be an ® or perhaps a ™ after it as it so often appears in connection with a particular organisation. However no such connection is evident is this paper entitled “The Impact of Telehealthcare on the Quality and Safety of Care: A Systematic Overview” (published on the PLOS ONE site), especially as the overall conclusion is far from that often found in articles toting that word:

“Policymakers and planners need to be aware that investment in telehealthcare will not inevitably yield clinical or economic benefits. It is likely that the greatest gains will be achieved for patients at highest risk of serious outcomes. There is a need for longer-term studies in order to determine whether the benefits demonstrated in time limited trials are sustained.”

If you stop there though, you miss some very important points (more…)