This project evaluated the effectiveness of an existing telehealth service in providing primary health care to three geographically remote communities. Telehealth services are thought to be useful because they may improve the quantity, continuity, availability, and accessibility of care in isolated communities. However, project staff and participants did not receive sufficient training in telehealth operations, and participants found there were not enough telehealth interactions to conclude whether or not this technology delivered quality care, was cost-effective, or increased access. Very little statistical or perceptual data was available to enable researchers to answer the original question of whether telehealth was useful or not. Project leaders concluded that “under the right conditions and guidance,” telehealth might benefit the communities studied.
The full report for this project is available on the Alberta Health and Wellness web site at http://www.health.gov.ab.ca/system/key/phc/projects/Keeweetinok/Telehealth/description.htm
This project was supported by the Health Transition Fund, which was created in 1997 to provide support for evidence-based decision-making in health care reform by supporting pilot and evaluation projects which test innovative approaches to health care delivery. The views expressed herein do no necessarily represent the official policy of federal, provincial, or territorial governments.