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Telemed J E Health. 2014 Jul;20(7):609-18. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2013.0259. Epub 2014 May 12.

Critical appraisal of published systematic reviews assessing the cost-effectiveness of telemedicine studies.

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1
1 Warwick Evidence, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick , Coventry, United Kingdom .

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Over the last 10 years several systematic reviews have been published on the cost-effectiveness of telemedicine studies. Most reviews have concluded that there is not much difference in the cost-effectiveness when delivering health services via telemedicine or by conventional means. We are not aware of any systematic review looking at the systematic reviews of cost-effectiveness of telemedicine. This study was designed to identify published systematic reviews on the cost-effectiveness of telemedicine studies and to undertake a quality assessment of the identified systematic reviews.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

We searched six electronic databases, including Medline, Embase, and the NHS Economic Evaluation Database, combining "review" terms with "telemedicine" terms to identify systematic reviews.

RESULTS:

We identified 4,116 potential abstracts. Nine systematic reviews met the inclusion criteria, which looked at the cost-effectiveness of telemedicine in general. All reviews were similar in terms of their stated purpose, and the objectives were clear. Three of the reviews did not use a checklist for the economic evaluation studies included in their review. The quality assessment found that five of the nine reviews had minimal flaws.

CONCLUSIONS:

Even though the general quality of reporting of the reviews was fine, we have found that conclusions cannot be drawn on the cost-effectiveness of telemedicine applications based on the methodological flaws in the economic analysis of the studies included in the reviews. Over time, reporting of cost-effectiveness has generally improved; however, there is still room for improvement, and authors need to use the recommended checklists for economic evaluations.

KEYWORDS:

cost-effectiveness; economics; systematic review; telemedicine

PMID:
24820406
DOI:
10.1089/tmj.2013.0259
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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