The Use of and Attitude Towards Telehealth in Rural Communities
Australian Journal of Primary Health
13(3) 29 - 34
This paper reports on the attitudes of a sample of health care providers towards the use of telehealth to support rural patients and integrate rural primary health and urban hospital care. Telehealth and other information technologies hold the promise of improving the quality of care for people in rural and remote areas and for supporting rural primary health care providers. While seemingly beneficial for rural patients, study participants believed that telehealth remains underused and poorly integrated into their practice. In general, participants thought that telehealth is potentially beneficial but places constraints on their activities, and few actually used it. Published literature usually reports either on the success of telehealth pilot projects or initiatives that are well resourced and do not reflect the constraints of routine practice, or has an international focus limiting its relevance to the Australian context. Because of the paucity of systematic and generalisable research into the effects of the routine use of telehealth to support rural patients, it is unclear why health care professionals choose to provide such services or the costs and benefits they incur in doing so. Research and policy initiatives continue to be needed to identify the impact of telehealth within the context of Australian primary health care and to develop strategies to support its use.
Full text doi:10.1071/PY07035
© La Trobe University 2007