Leaping the chasm – supporting clinicians to deliver ‘face to face’ outpatient services via telehealth

Jane George1, Emma Lacey-Williams2

1West Coast District Health Board, Grey Hospital, PO Box 387, Greymouth, New Zealand jane.george@westcoastdhb.health.nz
2West Coast District Health Board, Grey Hospital, PO Box 387, Greymouth, New Zealand emma.laceywilliams@westcoastdhb.health.nz

With a geographical area of nearly 25,000 km2 and a population of less than 33,000, the West Coast District Health Board is a predominantly rural health service.

As a front runner in Telehealth initiatives and with a 6 year history of user experience, the Health Board has continued to support Telehealth within the wider community. Valuing patient lifestyle choice, finances and time via avoidance of lengthy transport times to the main health centres, have ensured that Telehealth outpatient clinics have flourished.

The ability to conceptualise and engage with clinical practice and service delivery through this medium has been variable both across and within disciplines of Allied Health. To ensure that services are consistently available rather than being dependent on an individual’s technology skills, foundation projects have been developed to identify strengths and benefits that have meaning for all Allied Health clinicians involved.

To reduce the considerable travel time required to connect Allied Health Clinicians and people using their services, by widening the reach of telehealth.

To understand the incentives and barriers for Allied Health clinicians embarking on a journey of outpatient clinic delivery via Telehealth.

Utilising the Technology Adoption Life Cycle theory and Geoffrey Moore’s ‘The Chasm’, the West Coast District Health Board’s Allied Health Services have embarked on a series of foundation projects to support clinicians to safely and confidently deliver appropriate services via Telehealth.

Successful strategies and learnings will be presented in detail.

The strategies implemented following the foundation projects have escalated the difficulties in resourcing hardware. In order to continue the success of the strategies there needs to be a system wide approach to the solution. This means that with limited cell phone coverage, and considerably smaller volumes of internet capable devices per capita, further role out of Telehealth delivered services into patients’ homes will require district wide investment in infrastructure and innovation.

A variety of service wide and individualised strategies have been employed to support safe and rewarding use of Telehealth technology within the Allied Health setting.


Jane George is Associate Director of Allied Health for the West Coast District Health Board.  She is a registered Social Worker, and has practiced in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  Her research interests are centred on improving health outcomes for vulnerable populations in rural settings.  A primary goal is the use of strengths based leadership strategies to support staff to use innovation in response to change.  Jane is a Member of the Australasian College of Health Management, the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (MANZASW) and Health Informatics New Zealand (HINZ).

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