A needs-based planning framework for telemedicine services
The aim of the framework
This needs-based planning framework for telemedicine services aims to provide direction and guidance to assess the health services needed in a community prior to the implementation of a telemedicine service.
Justification for needs assessment
Why do we need to conduct a needs assessment before implementing telemedicine services?
- The first step for planning a successful implementation is evaluating needs
- Health needs assessment is an evidence-based method of planning for health services to ensure a health service uses its resources to improve or maintain in an efficient manner the public health
- Gathering the required information and the allocation of resources distributed to reduce inequalities has evolved into a valid method of tailoring health services
- Telemedicine should be driven by the needs of patients and clinicians rather than technology
- Each community has its own unique requirements that should be addressed accordingly.
- The outcome of the needs assessment study can provide information that can be used to identify the requirements, investigate the available options and identify whether telemedicine might play a role in improving access to healthcare services. This framework consists of two phases, each containing three components: Phase one - data collection. Phase one is measured quantitatively and qualitatively. Analysis of data from each component will provide an understanding of the current status of healthcare services and the needs of the target population. After the comprehensive process of identifying needs (phase one), a list of needed healthcare services will be produced. This list will likely present different, potentially conflicting needs. This is expected, since the collection of data in the first phase is intended to capture quantitative and qualitative data that reflects subjective and objective measures of needs that represent the community as a whole. Phase two - priority setting analysis. The needs identified in phase one should be weighed against each other and prioritised, since resources are limited and the goal of needs assessment is not just to identify the needs but to identify the prioritised services, which when offered will benefit most people in the studied community and improve their health. Healthcare needs assessments that do not provide adequate attention to implementation are merely an example of an academic exercise4,6. During this phase, the identified needs from phase one will be prioritised.
AlDossary S, Armfield NR, Smith AC, Martin-Khan MG. (2019). A Needs-based Planning Framework for Telemedicine Services: A Practical Guide. National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence in Telehealth; Centre for Online Health at the Centre for Health Services Research, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Australia.