Eleven years of experience with low-bandwidth telemedicine in a nurse-led rural clinic in Scotland

dianagosalvez Diana Gosálvez Prados last modified 3/02/2011 12:13

A pilot trial of telemedicine in primary care began in the village of Letham in 1998. The service provided conventional consultations with the district nurse, plus teleconsultations with a general practitioner (GP) at the health centre in Forfar, a few km away.

Harvey S, Peterkin G, Wootton R. Eleven years of experience with low-bandwidth telemedicine in a nurse-led rural clinic in Scotland. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. 2010; 16(8): 471-421. Available at: http://jtt.rsmjournals.com/content/vol16/issue8/



In the first year, the videoconferencing link was used by 14 patients, all aged over 65 years. The telemedicine service was judged to be successful and subsequently expanded to patients of any age. It was used for a wide range of health matters, including postnatal care, mental health problems, physical ailments, receiving test results and discussions with the doctor. During the 11-year study period, a total of 646 teleconsultations were conducted, a median rate of 65 per year. A qualitative evaluation of the service was conducted in 1999. Although the GPs involved expressed some reservations about the limited video quality, all three user groups were positive about the service. Nonetheless, the telemedicine service was not adopted as a routine method of health-care delivery by the NHS. To enable any telemedicine application to move from the pilot trial stage to routine service requires several things to happen at an organisational and contractual level. Ultimately an organizational decision about adoption is required, followed by appropriate mechanisms to enable diffusion.


Harvey S, Peterkin G, Wootton R.

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