Getting Started in General Practice

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. Simply running a virtual system alongside a physical system is likely to increase costs. Engage patients, eg raise awareness, educate, tailor to patients’ needs and environments.

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.

Implementation & Technology: There is more specific guidance on implementation and technology in the Getting Started section of this website.

Interoperability: Consider interoperability when choosing a provider. For example, will your system be able to communicate with your local DHB’s system?

Rural: Internet connectivity in rural areas is a further consideration.

Security: General practice ICT security checklist: To help you undertake a self-assessment and quick independent assessment of the baseline ICT security in your practice, use Patients First’s checklist.


Standards and Guidelines

Using telehealth does not change a GP’s obligation to comply with legal, professional, ethical and other relevant standards when providing care to patients. There are also additional standards specifically relevant to telehealth.

Relevant standards on telehealth can be found HERE


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.



 Send a message to the NZ Telehealth Forum and Resource Centre for further advice.