Telehealth in General Practice

This section of the website has been co-developed with the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) with a specific focus on telehealth for GPs and their practices.

INTRODUCTION

Implementing telehealth may be perceived as being complicated, however it is generally easy to get started. Remember telehealth will never be perfect - this is not a reason not to embrace it.

Patient safety and patient experience are primary considerations. GPs should always err on the side of caution and work to their own level of comfort. If there are any doubts during a telehealth consultation, ask the patient to come in for an in-person visit to diagnose and manage care safety.

Choose patients who will benefit most. One way to get started is to use telehealth for follow-up appointments for known patients who consult regularly. Another approach is using telehealth for triage services.

This resource aims to provide a framework to consider when implementing telehealth in general practice.

Seven lessons for using technology in health care

(Delivering the benefits of digital health care Nuffield Trust)

  1. Transformation first. Transformation comes from new ways of working, not the technology itself.
  2. Culture change is crucial. Invest at least as much into organisational change and staff training as in the technology itself.
  3. User-centred design. Ensure systems are designed to solve the problems and needs of the people who are going to use them. Clinician input is vital.
  4. Invest in analytics. Data analytics can drive improvement. 
  5. Multiple iterations and continuous learning. Implementing technology is an ongoing process, which may include several cycles before investment starts to pay off.
  6. Support interoperability. Data sharing across multiple settings is essential to supporting coordinated care. Procure and use systems that comply with national data and interoperability standards.
  7. Strong information governance to give patients confidence to share their data across settings.