The last day of the international HTAi conference focused on using information and communication technology (ICT), such as telemedicine, in integrated care. One of our recent health technology assessments focused on the use of telemedicine in the rehabilitation setting for patients with musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and other medical conditions.
At HTAi, a panel of experts reported on several studies that investigated the use of telemonitoring for patients with chronic diseases. One promising example was a large randomized clinical trial that evaluated a home-based telehealth intervention for 3230 people with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or heart failure [http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e3874]. The finding that significantly fewer people died in the telehealth group compared with the control group receiving usual care (4.6% versus 8.3%; P
The panelists agreed that evaluating the evidence surrounding telemedicine can be difficult since social and geographic factors often impact its effects. Additionally, even when the bulk of the evidence supports a particular telemedicine application, implementing the approach has been challenging due to the complexity of healthcare systems. A web-based tool, normalization process theory (NPT), was recommended as a way to help managers to better implement and integrate new technologies or complex interventions such as telemedicine. If you’re struggling with implementing health technologies, you can read more about NPT here. Download the NPT tool kit here.
The panelists agreed that telemedicine applications could be useful, as long as decision makers had access to a framework to help them determine the most efficient and cost-effective model. An experimental framework, The Model for ASsessment of Telemedicine applications (MAST) was initiated by the European Commission and developed with input from users and telemedicine stakeholders. MAST is currently being tested in 20 studies across 9 European countries. Learn more about MAST here.