Clinical and cost-effectiveness of telemedicine among patients with type 2 diabetes in primary care: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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AIMS: Telemedicine has been promoted as an effective way of managing type-2 diabetes (T2DM) in primary care. However, the effectiveness of telemedicine is unclear. We investigated the clinical and cost-effectiveness of different telemedicine interventions for people with T2DM, compared to usual care.

METHODS: We searched Medline, Embase, Cochrane, CINHAL, ProQuest and EconLit for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effectiveness of telemedicine interventions on clinical outcomes (HbA1c, body mass index [BMI], weight, diastolic blood pressure [DBP], systolic blood pressure [SBP], fasting blood glucose, high-density lipoprotein [HDL] cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein [LDL] cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglyceride) in adults with T2DM, published in English from inception until 31 December 2022. Meta-analyses were conducted using random-effects models pooling mean differences, heterogeneity was quantified using the I 2 statistic. Publication bias was assessed using funnel plots, Egger tests and trim and fill. Subgroup analyses included type of telemedicine intervention, telemedicine mode of delivery and type of healthcare professionals. This study was registered with PROSPERO, CRD 42022375128.

RESULTS: Of the 4093 records identified, 21 RCTs, 10,732 participants from seven regions, were included. Reported interventions included telephone (k = 16 studies), internet-based (k = 2), videoconference (k = 2) and telephone and emails (k = 1). We observed no statistically significant differences between synchronous or asynchronous telemedicine interventions compared to usual care for HbA1c (-0.08% (-0.88 mmol/mol); 95% CI: -0.18, 0.02), BMI (0.51 kg/m 2; 95% CI: -0.21, 1.22), SBP (-1.48 mmHg; 95% CI: -3.22, 0.26), DBP (3.23 mmHg; 95% CI: -0.89, 7.34), HDL-cholesterol (0.01 mmol/L; 95% CI: -0.03, 0.05), LDL-cholesterol (0.08 mmol/L; 95% CI: -0.22, 0.37), triglycerides (-0.08 mmol/L, 95% CI: -0.31, -0.15), total cholesterol (-0.10 mmol/L; 95% CI: -0.25, 0.04) and weight (-0.50 kg; 95% CI: -1.21, 0.21).

CONCLUSIONS: Telemedicine was as effective as usual care in improving health outcomes of people with T2DM. They can provide a safe solution in times of rising demands for primary healthcare services, or in extreme events, like a global pandemic. More high-quality RCTs are needed on the cost evaluation of telemedicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e15343
JournalDiabetic medicine : a journal of the British Diabetic Association
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 May 2024


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