Telehealth Outcomes and Impact on Care Delivery: A Review of Evidence


Adara Citron, Margaret Fix, Garen Corbett, and Janet Coffman

November 16, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly reshaped health care delivery, notably with a surge in telehealth use driven by changes in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. The ensuing wave of research, spanning over 80 studies from 2021 to 2022, explored the impact of telehealth on health outcomes and care delivery. This report distills key findings for policymakers, payers, practitioners, and researchers interested in telehealth’s effectiveness compared to in-person care.

Research has particularly focused on telehealth’s efficacy in treating specific conditions, with live video demonstrating equivalence to in-person care for mental health conditions. However, drawing comprehensive conclusions remains challenging due to methodological variations, patient demographics, and payment policies.

The literature review exposes a concerning lack of examination of disparities among patient demographic groups, such as income, age, language, and race. Also, there are significant gaps in research on telephone-based care, hybrid care, multimodal telehealth, and the use of email, text, and chat for chronic conditions beyond diabetes.

Addressing these gaps, future research should offer practical insights to inform policy and practice decisions in the health care delivery system. The absence of studies on disparities in the effectiveness of telehealth services impedes progress toward enhancing access and equity, underscoring the critical role such insights will play in shaping the future of telehealth.