Background: Increased use of telemedicine in the healthcare system is a political goal in Denmark. Although the number of hospital patients using interventions such as the video consultation has increased in recent years only a small proportion of the outpatient and inpatient visits involve telemedicine. The TELEMED database (https://telemedicine.cimt.dk/) has been launched at the Center for Innovative Medical Technology in Denmark to ensure that hospital managers and healthcare professionals have access to information about telemedicine services and their effectiveness. This article describes the development and the content of the TELEMED database.
Methods: A structured literature search was made in the PubMed Database for randomised controlled trials or observational studies with a control group that investigated the effect of telemedicine interventions for hospital patients. Data were extracted from each article on the clinical effectiveness, patient perceptions, economic effects and implementation challenges. As the database should only provide inspiration to healthcare professionals regarding possibilities for use of telemedicine, the risk of bias in the studies was not assessed.
Results: The literature search resulted in 2825 hits. Based on full text assessment, 331 articles were included for data extraction and assessment. These articles present telemedicine services used in 22 different medical specialities. Forty-eight percent of the studies found a positive, statistically significant clinical effect, while 47% showed no statistically significant difference. In 48% of the studies, patients' experiences were examined and of these 68% found positive patient experiences. Fifty-four percent of the articles included information on the economic effects and, of these, 51% found reduction in healthcare utilization. In the majority of studies between two and four types of implementation challenges were found.Conclusions and recommendations: The TELEMED database provides an easily accessible overview of existing evidence-based telemedicine services for use by hospital managers and health professionals, who whish to to implement telemedicine. The database is freely available and expected to be continuously improved and broadened over time.
Keywords: Health Technology Assessment; Telemedicine; evidence-based medicine; hospital-based; somatic disease.