Background: Telemedicine has been utilized increasingly worldwide for diabetes management, due to its potential to improve healthcare access and clinical outcomes. Few studies have assessed the economic benefits of telemedicine, which may contribute to underfunding in potentially important programs. We aim to systematically review the literature on economic evaluations of telemedicine in diabetes care, assess the quality, and summarize the evidence on driver of cost-effectiveness.
Materials and methods: A literature search was performed in 10 databases from inception until February 2018. All economic evaluations assessing the economic evaluation of telemedicine in diabetes were eligible for inclusion. We subsequently evaluated the study quality in terms of effectiveness measures, cost measure, economic model, as well as time horizon.
Results: Of the 1877 studies identified, 14 articles were included in our final review. The healthcare providers' fees are a major predictor for total cost. In particular, the use of telemedicine for retinal screening was beneficial and cost-effective for diabetes management, with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio between $113.48/quality-adjusted life year (QALY) and $3,328.46/QALY (adjusted to 2017 inflation rate). Similarly, the use of telemonitoring and telephone reminders was cost-effective in diabetes management.
Conclusions: Among all telemedicine strategies examined, teleophthalmology was the most cost-effective intervention. Future research is needed to provide evidence on the long-term experience of telemedicine and facilitate resource allocation.
Keywords: Cost–effectiveness analysis; Diabetes management; Systematic review.; Telemedicine.