Clinical and Economic Outcomes of Telemedicine Programs in the Intensive Care Unit: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Abstract

Objective:

To evaluate the impact of telemedicine programs in intensive care unit (Tele-ICU) on ICU or hospital mortality or ICU or hospital length of stay and to summarize available data on implementation cost of Tele-ICU.

Methods:

Controlled trails or observational studies assessing outcomes of interest were identified by searching 7 electronic databases from inception to July 2016 and related journals and conference literatures between 2000 and 2016. Two reviewers independently screened searched records, extracted data, and assessed the quality of included studies. Random-effect models were applied to meta-analyses and sensitivity analysis.

Results:

Nineteen of 1035 records fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The pooled effects demonstrated that Tele-ICU programs were associated with reductions in ICU mortality (15 studies; risk ratio [RR], 0.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.72 to 0.96; P = .01), hospital mortality (13 studies; RR, 0.74; 95% CIs, 0.58 to 0.96; P = .02), and ICU length of stay (9 studies; mean difference [MD], −0.63; 95% CI, −0.28 to 0.17; P = .007). However, there is no significant association between the reduction in hospital length of stay and Tele-ICU programs. Summary data concerning costs suggested approximately US$50 000 to US$100 000 per Tele-ICU bed was required to implement Tele-ICU programs for the first year. Hospital costs of US$2600 reduction to US$5600 increase per patient were estimated using Tele-ICU programs.

Conclusions:

This systematic review and meta-analysis provided limited evidence that Tele-ICU approaches may reduce the ICU and hospital mortality, shorten the ICU length of stay, but have no significant effect in hospital length of stay. Implementation of Tele-ICU programs substantially costs and its long-term cost-effectiveness is still unclear.

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