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Landscape for Telehealth Under COVID-19

A female patent of African decent meets with her doctor remotely via a video call.  She is sitting at her kitchen table with her laptop out and a cup of coffee on the table with her.  The doctor can be seen on the screen wearing a white lab coat as she talks with her patient.
A landscape review and expert convenings to inform research into telehealth use and effectiveness
  • Funder
    Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
  • Dates
    September 2020 - January 2021

Project Purpose

The purpose of the Landscape for Telehealth under COVID-19 project was to help the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) identify new opportunities for comparative effectiveness research within telehealth, especially after the major shift towards telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of this work, NORC at the University of Chicago worked closely with PCORI to complete a rapid landscape review of peer-reviewed and grey literature on changes to telehealth-related policy, care delivery, and outcomes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. NORC also assembled a small group of telehealth experts to serve on a technical expert panel (TEP). The TEP convened several times to provide insight into where PCORI might target its future research and telehealth investments.

Landscape Review of Pandemic Changes

The landscape review was guided by three major framework components: policy context, health system delivery, and outcomes. Due to the abbreviated timeline, we conducted a pragmatic review focused on literature published between January 30, 2020, and October 16, 2020, incorporating key resources provided by PCORI and expert informants. To remain within the narrow scope of pandemic-related changes, we limited our review to work that met specific definitions of telehealth and telemedicine, focused on the expansion or use of telehealth during the pandemic, and covered at least one of the three major framework components. The final landscape review report provided a synthesis of telehealth trends during the COVID-19 pandemic, potential health disparity implications of telehealth, areas needing further research, and potential areas of future focus for PCORI.

Expert Input on Future Research

NORC convened a seven-member TEP that represented academic, industry, and patient-centered advocacy backgrounds. NORC conducted a series of one-on-one interviews with each TEP member and convened the entire group to discuss areas where additional evidence for telehealth use may be warranted. NORC produced a comprehensive meeting summary document and a transcript. The summary document described the implications for research priorities in telehealth, suggestions for next steps that PCORI may take to engage in this field, and recommendations for subsequent rapid evidence review in priority research areas.

Project Leads

“This review of the shifting telehealth landscape under COVID-19 helped identify promising new areas of telehealth research.”

Vice President & Senior Fellow

“This review of the shifting telehealth landscape under COVID-19 helped identify promising new areas of telehealth research.”

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