Quantifying the Societal Benefits From Telehealth: Productivity and Reduced Travel [Editor's Choice]



To quantify the societal benefit of telehealth in terms of the reduction in lost productivity.


Using a case study approach, retrospective data were examined for all telehealth outpatient consults in Queensland, Australia during a 1-year period from July 2017 to June 2018. The productivity gains when individuals had specialist consults via telehealth were estimated using the human capital method by multiplying the estimated travel time with the average Australian daily wage.


A total of 30 149 outpatient consults were identified for this analysis. It was estimated that the use of telehealth for these outpatient consults avoided 9 644 569 km of travel (5 992 857 miles) and 27 068 days away from usual activities. Using the average Australian wage and the estimated travel time for these outpatient telehealth consults, the overall productivity gain for society was estimated at A$9 176 052 or A$304 per consult.


Consideration of the costs and potential savings attributed to the delivery of telehealth services is important for service planning and government investment. Our study highlights the benefits from a societal perspective. When healthcare is provided using telehealth instead of in person, there are likely to be productivity benefits for both the patients and society.


Centaine L. Snoswell Anthony C. Smith Matthew Page Paul Scuffham Liam J. Caffery

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