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A systematic review exploring pre-COVID-19 telehealthcare models used in the management of patients with rheumatological disease

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Article numberrkab073
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/11/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Rheumatology Advances in Practice
Issue number3
Number of pages14
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/11/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Objective: The aim was to assess the use of telehealthcare in rheumatology before coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), to which future comparisons of newer interventions adapted during the crisis can be made. Methods: We performed a registered systematic literature search using MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL and PubMed databases. All full-length articles comparing telehealthcare delivery models with standard care (face-to-face consultation) in the management of patients with rheumatic conditions were assessed for inclusion. Results: A total of 4809 studies were identified; 108 studies were suitable for review by full text, and 13 studies were appropriate to be included in this review. Five studies (38%) included patients with RA, four studies (31%) included patients with mixed disease cohorts, two studies (15%) included patients with OA, one study (8%) included patients with JIA, and one study (8%) included patients with FM. Six studies (46%) used telephone consultation, three studies (23%) used mixed method communication, three studies (23%) used videoconferencing, and one study (8%) used website-delivered telecommunication as their method of telehealthcare delivery. Overall, seven studies (54%) identified the telehealthcare intervention to be an effective method of consultation, and six studies (46%) identified the telehealthcare intervention as non-inferior when compared with standard care. Conclusion: Current evidence for telehealthcare in rheumatology is lacking, and the evidence for effectiveness is limited by methodological bias and clinical heterogeneity of telehealthcare interventions, preventing definitive inferences. Scrutinous assessment of the current telehealthcare interventions used during COVID-19 is required to accommodate recommendations and guideline reviews directed from international working groups.