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J Telemed Telecare. 2003;9(6):311-20.

The socio-economic impact of telehealth: a systematic review.

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  • 1Health Telematics Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. jennett@ucalgary.ca


We reviewed the socio-economic impact of telehealth, focusing on nine main areas: paediatrics, geriatrics, First Nations (i.e. indigenous peoples), home care, mental health, radiology, renal dialysis, rural/remote health services and rehabilitation. A systematic search led to the identification of 4646 citations or abstracts; from these, 306 sources were analysed. A central finding was that telehealth studies to date have not used socio-economic indicators consistently. However, specific telehealth applications have been shown to offer significant socio-economic benefit, to patients and families, health-care providers and the health-care system. The main benefits identified were: increased access to health services, cost-effectiveness, enhanced educational opportunities, improved health outcomes, better quality of care, better quality of life and enhanced social support. Although the review found a number of areas of socio-economic benefit, there is the continuing problem of limited generalizability.

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