Caring from a distance: the role of telehealth

Nurs Times. 2015 Jul;111(28-29):18-20.


Background: Telehealth is used to help people manage their heath and maintain independence, but has proved difficult to integrate into routine practice.

Aim: To explore the barriers to telehealth and find out what helps to improve its adoption among nursing staff.

Method: Case studies were compiled from four community health services in the Yorkshire and Humber region that were using telehealth to monitor patients. The case studies used interviews with 84 community nursing, technical and support staff, and 21 managers. Some 40 telehealth users and 12 carers were also interviewed.

Results: Factors serving as barriers to the use of telehealth, including lack of planning, insufficient training, lack of time and technological problems. Factors encouraging uptake included giving nurses time to experiment with the technology, a clear service pathway, establishing telehealth champions to troubleshoot and disseminate information, and successful care using telehealth.

Discussion: Factors improving the adoption of telehealth in community nursing include: better planning of how the service operates and installing appropriate technology, good communication with nurses and service users, establishing telehealth champions and providing ongoing training and support.

Conclusion: Many of the barriers in using telehealth can be avoided with better planning and collaboration.

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Nursing*
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • England
  • Telemedicine*