Patients and families experiences with video telehealth in rural/remote communities in Northern Canada

J Clin Nurs. 2009 Sep;18(18):2573-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02427.x.


Aim: To explore patients' and families' experiences with video telehealth consultations as a method of health care delivery in rural/ remote communities in Northern Canada.

Background: Accessing health services in isolated populations where human resources and infrastructure are constrained by vast geographical landmasses poses challenges and opportunities for nurses, health care providers, patients and families.

Design: A qualitative approach was adopted with a purposeful sample of 10 patients and four family members representative of nine communities.

Method: Selection criteria included patients receiving telehealth visits for a minimum of a year and willing to share their experiences. Data were collected during the winter of 2006 using semi-structured video taped interviews and analysed using a qualitative thematic content analysis.

Results: Patients and families experiences of their telehealth visits centered on three key themes: lessening the burden (costs of travel, accommodations, lost wages, lost time and physical limitations), maximising supports (access to family, friends, familiar home environment, nurses and other care providers), tailoring specific e-health systems to enhance patient and family needs.

Conclusion: The benefits of telehealth extend not only to patients and families but are linked to benefits for providers as well as the health care system.

Relevance to clinical practice: This study indicates that video telehealth is an effective mechanism for delivering nursing and other health services to rural/remote communities and can impact positively on the quality of health care. The integration of telehealth practice can enhance the coordination, organisation and implementation of health care services.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Family*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Rural Population*
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Video Recording*