A federal review of the use of telehealth services suggests that such services may be appear useful in helping to improve care and reduce costs under certain conditions but are less useful in others.

According to a draft currently under review by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality,

  • Remote intensive care unit (ICU) consultations likely reduce ICU mortality and ICU length of stay (LOS); specialty telehealth consultations likely reduce the time patients spend in the emergency department; and remote consultations for outpatient care likely improve access and a range of clinical outcomes (moderate strength of evidence in favor of telehealth).
  • Findings with lower confidence are that telehealth consultations may: reduce inpatient LOS and costs; may improve outcomes and reduce costs for emergency care due to fewer transfers; and may reduce outpatient visits and costs due to travel (low strength of evidence in favor of telehealth).

On the other hand,

  • Current evidence reports no difference in overall hospital LOS with remote ICUs, no difference in clinical outcomes with inpatient telehealth specialty consultations, no difference in mortality but also no difference in harms with telestroke consultations; and no difference in satisfaction with outpatient telehealth consultations (low strength of evidence of no difference).

Learn more about the work-in-progress report by viewing the AHRQ draft “Telehealth for Acute and Chronic Care Consultations” or seeing this summary on the Healthcare Dive web site.