Telehealth in trauma: A scoping review
Wake E, Atkins H, Willock A, Hawkes A, Dawber J, & Weir KA.
Background: The purpose of this scoping review was to ascertain how ‘telehealth’ is utilised within health care, from pre hospital to admission, discharge and post discharge, with patients who have suffered major trauma.
Methods: A scoping review of the literature published in English since 1980 was conducted using MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE, PsychINFO, CINAHL, Austhealth, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; Cochrane library) and Web of Science MEDLINE and MEBASE to identify relevant studies.
Results: We included 77 eligible studies with both randomised controlled trial and cohort design methodology. A variety of trauma was included such as traumatic brain injuries (n = 52; 67.5%), spinal cord injury (n = 14; 18.2%) and multi-trauma (n = 9; 11.7%) to both adult (n = 38) and paediatric (n = 32) participants. Telehealth is used in pre-hospital and acute-care settings (n = 11; 14.3%) to facilitate assessment, and in rehabilitation and follow-up (n = 61; 79.2%) to deliver therapy. Effects on health were reported the most (n = 46), with no negative outcomes. The feasibility of telehealth as a delivery mode was established, but coordination and technical issues are barriers to use. Overall, both patients and clinicians were satisfied using this mode of delivery.
Conclusion: This review demonstrates how telehealth is utilised across a spectrum of patients with traumatic injuries and to facilitate delivery of therapy, specialist consultations and assessments, with many studies reporting improvements to health. There is a paucity of high-quality rigorous research, which makes replication of findings and uptake of the intervention problematic. Future telehealth and trauma research should focus on the quality and reproducibility of telehealth interventions and the economic feasibility of using this platform to deliver trauma care.