Integrating telehealth in to 'business as usual': Is it really possible?

J Telemed Telecare. 2016 Dec;22(8):499-503. doi: 10.1177/1357633X16675802.


The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, began offering web-based telehealth video consultation in 2011, with the principle being that telehealth should be integrated into 'business as usual'. In telehealth literature, key differences between telehealth and in-person consultations can make this hard to achieve, so an audit was performed that revealed many small gaps in the process.A total of 125 telehealth appointments were booked during the study period. Of these, 13% (n = 16) were rescheduled, cancelled or changed to face-to-face appointments, and up to two main issues were identified for the remaining appointments. Some 69% of the remaining 108 appointments (n = 75) were completed successfully, with 23% (n = 25) completely seamless end to end. Overall, 39 issues were administrative (40%), 34 technical (35%) and 24 scheduling (25%); nine (8%) required some minor troubleshooting.For long-term sustainability, integrating telehealth into business as usual needs to remain the target. Scheduling and technical glitches were the main barriers to seamless telehealth. Several issues have now been addressed with the introduction of an electronic medical record, and the development of standardised processes and staff training.

Keywords: Telehealth; barriers; business as usual; hospital; telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Humans
  • Program Evaluation
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Remote Consultation / organization & administration
  • Telemedicine / organization & administration*