With telehealth use skyrocketing over the past year and a half due to the coronavirus pandemic, some have wondered if there’s a limit to its effectiveness. Is there a certain number of virtual visits that a patient – especially one with a chronic condition – should get, after which the technology outlasts its value?
The answer, according the researchers at the University of West Virginia, is … uncertain.
Led by Jennifer Mallow, of the WVU School of Nursing, the team of researchers conducted a systematic review of telehealth interventions delivered to “community dwelling adults experiencing chronic illness or disability related to effectiveness, quality, safety, and cost.” They sifted through roughly 80 abstracts, looking for patterns tied to value.
“As researchers, we recognized there is a gap in the current science,” Mallow, an associate professor in the School of Nursing’s Adult Health Department, said in a recent news release. “We don’t know how much or how often telehealth should be used to impact outcomes yet. So, we needed to do the work in order to push what we know about telehealth forward.”
The results, recently published in Scientific Research, were inconclusive, making it clear that defining value in a telehealth service isn’t that easy.