Policy-makers consider telehealth to be a potential solution to delivery of care in rural Scotland. Telehealth can support patients in the community and may reduce emergency admissions to hospital. The Argyll & Bute telehealth initiative, which commenced in 2007, trialled home telehealth monitoring of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and community- and surgery-based monitoring of general wellbeing and hypertension. An evaluation in 2010 assessed staff and patient satisfaction by questionnaire, impact on hospital and GP attendance by case record review and detailed opinions on the programme by qualitative interviews with key staff. Home monitoring for COPD was associated with high levels of patient satisfaction and a reduction in hospital admissions and other health service contacts. Delays in implementation and some technical challenges compromised evaluation of the surgery and community initiatives. Patients and staff were generally enthusiastic but also identified potential barriers to development. This paper describes the implementation and outcomes of the initiative and identifies issues that clinicians embarking on telehealth programmes must consider: technical factors; governance and security; staff profiling and training; clinical outcomes; and scalability.
Roberts, A., Garrett, L., & Godden, D. J. (2012). Can telehealth deliver for rural Scotland? Lessons from the Argyll & Bute Telehealth Programme. Scottish Medical Journal, 57(1), 33-37. https://doi.org/10.1258/smj.2011.011288