Assessment of videoconferencing in telehealth in Canada

Noorani H Z, Picot J.
Record ID 32001000092
English, French
Authors' objectives:

This study is intended: (1) to provide decision makers within the Canadian health care system with broad-based information about the collective experience of eight telehealth videoconferencing (VC) programs, (2) to provide decision makers with evidence regarding outcomes from the use of VC technology in terms of patient care, distance education and training, user and provider satisfaction and communication patterns, (3) to suggest directions for the future through a retrospective view of what has occurred, or not occurred, in VC in telehealth in Canada over the past two decades.

Authors' recommendations: Given the size and population of Canada, the number of sites covered by VC and the number of patients seen by VC in telehealth is very small. Establishing systems for patient care using VC technology is feasible. However, there is little evidence from the literature of either its clinical or economic benefit, especially regarding its cost-effectiveness when compared to FTF care. All the programs surveyed reported some positive results using VC. This includes improved communications between colleagues, better access to care, and a high level of patient satisfaction. There are many important issues that remain to be resolved in the use of VC. Reimbursement of practitioners is still a pending issue within some programs. The surveyed programs have added new staff positions, but there are no nationally approved standards for training, and education of operators or site coordinators. The use of VC in telehealth in Canada faces its greatest challenges within the areas of organizational change and medico-legal issues. VC in telehealth in Canada has a tenuous position within the health care system. Sustainable long-term funding is in place in only two of the programs surveyed. In spite of these difficulties, most programs reported having met their objectives. All plan to expand the programs in the future. Survey respondents report a growing acceptance of telehealth practices by practitioners and patients. This acceptance comes from the desire to improve access to care, particularly for patients in remote locations, newer generations of user-friendly technologies, and the expanding number of applications for telehealth. This report offers some suggestions regarding future considerations for VC programs in telehealth in Canada. These include the need for quality outcome studies regarding clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness, and the need for guidelines for planning and implementation, user training, and program sustainability over the long-term.
Authors' methods: Survey
Project Status: Completed
URL for project:
Year Published: 2001
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Not Assigned
Country: Canada
MeSH Terms
  • Telemedicine
Organisation Name: Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment
Contact Address: 600-865 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, ON K1S 5S8 Canada. Tel: +1 613 226 2553, Fax: +1 613 226 5392;
Contact Name:
Contact Email:
Copyright: Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment
This is a bibliographic record of a published health technology assessment from a member of INAHTA or other HTA producer. No evaluation of the quality of this assessment has been made for the HTA database.