The successful implementation of telehealth services depends largely on clinician acceptance of telehealth as a viable healthcare option and their adoption of telehealth methods into their clinical practice. While growing research supports the feasibility of telehealth services, no research has evaluated clinicians' experiences during the implementation of a younger onset dementia telehealth service. Semi-structured group interviews were conducted with 7 metropolitan (hub) clinicians and 16 rural (spoke) clinicians during the pre-and post-implementation phases of a novel Younger onset dementia (YOD) telehealth service. Reflexive thematic analysis identified five themes at pre-implementation: clinical need, previous experiences and views, potential telehealth barriers, solutions to potential telehealth barriers, and potential clinical outcomes. At post-implementation, nine themes were identified: clinical need, clinical relationships, concerns about the future of rural healthcare, clinical practice and resourcing factors, patient suitability, difficulties with technology, service quality, the way forward, and the impact of COVID-19. Most clinicians held positive views regarding the service, particularly the ability to provide more options to rural-dwelling patients. However, some concerns about threats to rural healthcare and the validity of telehealth assessments remained. Overall, this study has identified service implementation barriers and facilitators and contributes to the long-term sustainability of current and future telehealth YOD services.
Keywords: clinicians; implementation; rural healthcare; telehealth; teleneuropsychology; younger onset dementia.