Objective: A literature review was conducted to identify the reported benefits attributed to telehealth for people living and professionals working in rural and remote areas of Australia.
Data sources: Scopus and relevant journals and websites were searched using the terms: telemedicine, telehealth, telepsychiatry, teledermatology, teleradiology, Australia, and each state and territory. Publications since 1998 were included.
Study selection: The initial search resulted in 176 articles, which was reduced to 143 when research reporting on Australian rural, regional or remote populations was selected.
Data synthesis: A narrative review was conducted using an existing 'benefits' framework. Patients are reported to have benefited from: lower costs and reduced inconvenience while accessing specialist health services; improved access to services and improved quality of clinical services. Health professionals are reported to have benefits from access to continuing education and professional development; provision of enhanced local services; experiential learning, networking and collaboration.
Discussion: Rural Australians have reportedly benefited from telehealth. The reported improved access and quality of clinical care available to rural Australians through telemedicine and telehealth may contribute to decreasing the urban-rural health disparities. The reported professional development opportunities and support from specialist through the use of telehealth may contribute to improved rural medical workforces recruitment and retention.