The potential of telehealth for 'business as usual' in outpatient clinics

J Telemed Telecare. 2012 Apr;18(3):138-41. doi: 10.1258/jtt.2012.SFT104. Epub 2012 Feb 23.


A six-month pilot study was conducted to ascertain the value of using high-definition videoconferencing equipment in an outpatients' setting. The videoconferencing equipment, which included digital biometric equipment, was installed in the outpatient clinics of a remote health service in New Zealand. Use of the equipment was evaluated using action research techniques. Clinicians were interviewed about their assessment of the equipment's usefulness. Patients and their carers completed questionnaires about their clinic experience. During the pilot trial, 109 patients were seen in 25 clinics of six different specialities. Questionnaire results showed that patients and their companions had a good user experience, similar to a face-to-face appointment. Clinicians found that the large screen, sense of proximity, video clarity and definition, and lack of sound/picture lag worked well for certain types of outpatients' clinics, e.g. methadone maintenance clinics. The need for process changes made it difficult to turn telehealth into business as usual in an environment built for face-to-face appointments. We conclude that videoconference equipment has potential to become integral to outpatients' clinics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities* / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • New Zealand
  • Pilot Projects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telemedicine* / methods
  • Telemedicine* / organization & administration
  • Videoconferencing* / organization & administration