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BACKGROUND: Telehealth is an emerging field of clinical practice but current UK health policy has not taken account of the perceptions of front-line healthcare professionals expected to implement it. AIM: To investigate telehealth care for people with long-term conditions from the perspective of the front-line health professional. DESIGN AND SETTING: A qualitative study in three sites within the UK (Kent, Cornwall, and the London Borough of Newham) and embedded in the Whole Systems Demonstrator evaluation, a large cluster randomised controlled trial of telehealth and telecare for patients with long-term and complex conditions. METHOD: Semi-structured qualitative interviews with 32 front-line health professionals (13 community matrons, 10 telehealth monitoring nurses and 9 GPs) involved in the delivery of telehealth. Data were analysed using a modified grounded theory approach. RESULTS: Mixed views were expressed by front-line professionals, which seem to reflect their levels of engagement. It was broadly welcomed by nursing staff as long as it supplemented rather than substituted their role in traditional patient care. GPs held mixed views; some gave a cautious welcome but most saw telehealth as increasing their work burden and potentially undermining their professional autonomy. CONCLUSION: Health care professionals will need to develop a shared understanding of patient self-management through telehealth. This may require a renegotiation of their roles and responsibilities.

Original publication

DOI

10.3399/bjgp14X680485

Type

Journal article

Journal

Br J Gen Pract

Publication Date

07/2014

Volume

64

Pages

e401 - e407

Keywords

Whole System Demonstrator, primary care, qualitative, telehealth, Attitude of Health Personnel, Clinical Competence, Cluster Analysis, Cost of Illness, Delivery of Health Care, Family Practice, Humans, Long-Term Care, Nursing Care, Patient Participation, Professional-Patient Relations, Telemedicine