Telehealth, the delivery of health care services at a distance using information and communications technology, has been slow to be adopted and difficult to sustain. Researchers developing theories concerning the introduction of complex change into health care usually take a multifactorial approach; we intentionally sought a single point of intervention that would have maximum impact on implementation. We conducted a qualitative interview study of 36 Australian telehealth services, sampled for maximum variation, and used grounded theory methods to develop a model from which we chose the most important factor affecting the success of telehealth. We propose that clinician acceptance explains much of the variation in the uptake, expansion, and sustainability of Australian telehealth services, and that clinician acceptance could, in most circumstances, overcome low demand, technology problems, workforce pressure, and lack of resourcing. We conclude that our model offers practical advice to those seeking to implement change with limited resources.
Keywords: grounded theory; health care administration; interviews, semistructured; research, qualitative; technology.