The most successful telehealth programmes are based on careful consideration of the community's needs, the healthcare organisation's environment and the desired programme outcomes before implementation.
While offering the potential for significant benefits to a health organisation and the community it serves, a telehealth programme can be costly to modify once in operation. On this page we outline the key principals of implementating a telehealth programme. Some (found on the left hand menu of this page) can be applied to all telehealth services while others apply more specifically to particular services such as video or 'store and forward'.
KEY FACTORS FOR SUCCESS
Assess your needs and find project leaders:
Early assessment of your organisation will allow you to identify and define exactly what you require prior to investing in costly equipment and resources. You will also need in-house leaders to advocate for the programme.
Learn the technology:
Familiarising yourself early on with the both the different applications of telehealth and the technology these applications require will help you tailor a purchase around your organisation's plan.
Appoint a dedicated telehealth coordinator:
Working alongside project leaders in your organisation, a dedicated coordinator manages the operational side of the programme. They'll need to be involved in the programme from early in the planning stage.
Integrate the programme into your services:
Locating the telehealth room close to other examination rooms and incorporating telehealth appointments into your existing scheduling helps establish it as another tool for delivery of health services.
Ensure IT technical support:
Access to IT staff knowledgeable in both telehealth equipment and your particular programme is critical for troubleshooting any technical issues that surface.
Monitor and improve:
Regular collection of data on the programme's performance will ensure you are clear on improvements that can be made to user satisfaction and outcomes. Patient and clinician feedback forms are a great tool for gauging success.
Aim for convenience:
Make it easy for your administrative staff to fully integrate and support the telehealth programme by providing simple scheduling, accounting and evaluative tools.