Introduction: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spread worldwide since December 2019, causing the COVID-19 pandemic. Several measures have taken place in many countries to avoid further spread of the virus and to manage infected people according to disease severity. Notably, telemedicine (TM) was successfully used to manage less severe patients. Our aim was to assess the impact and the edges of using TM in home-isolated or hospitalized patients affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection and its further application. Methods: We performed a systematic review according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines, focusing on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published in English and available on PubMed database. Full texts were blindly reviewed and then assessed according to PICO model. Results: Our research identified a total of 1,959 records, of which 24 were potentially eligible through the articles full-text review. Six papers were included for data extraction and 18 articles were excluded: 10 articles were not RCTs and 8 articles did not involve SARS-CoV-2 patients. The TM application showed an improvement in psychological stress, mental disorders, and a significant reduction of general stress in patients affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection. The effectiveness of using TM in rehabilitative respiratory programs has been also reported. Furthermore, the benefits of TM application in tailored monitoring of vital parameters in home-isolated patients helped clinicians to early identify a deterioration of clinical conditions. Conclusion: The use of TM during COVID-19 pandemic represented a novel, intriguing, versatile, and useful tool to support clinical practice. This evidence suggests considering TM in a wider range of clinical applications.
Plain Language Summary
Since December 2019, a new respiratory virus, called SARS-CoV-2, has spread worldwide. The subsequent disease, namely COVID-19, caused a wide range of clinical manifestations. Given the great disproportion between the number of cases and healthcare systems’ resources, many countries used telemedicine to manage less severe patients. Telemedicine (TM) is the result of several technologies which allow to remotely collect vital parameters, test results, and provide medical consultation, hesitating in a drastic reduction of direct contacts, a particularly important aspect during a pandemic. By this way, TM helped healthcare professionals in both monitoring patients and taking the most appropriate clinical decisions in a wide range of situations. Furthermore, TM offered the intriguing possibility to adjuvate rehabilitation and provide psychological support. A systematic review focuses on a research question and synthesizes high-quality evidence on the matter. The objective should be to reach a conclusion based on evidence using specific methods. In this systematic review, we assessed the impact of using telemedicine in home-isolated or hospitalized patients affected by COVID-19 and its further potential applications.