The Role of Nurses in Installing Telehealth Technology in the Home

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Home telehealth involves the use of video conferencing or remote monitoring equipment in patients' homes. The installation of hardware and training of patients has historically been performed by nurses, typically RNs. This article examines the experience of RNs as telehealth installers in the Informatics for Diabetes Education and Telemedicine (IDEATel) project, where RNs were responsible for the installation of the Home Telemedicine Units (HTUs) and for training patients in the use of the HTUs, blood pressure cuffs, and fingerstick glucose meters. Average installation and training time was 166 minutes (SD 51 min). Structured interviews with RN installers revealed that patient education and training accounted for roughly two thirds of the in-home time. Technology-related problems, especially those related to telecommunications, were the primary cause of installation difficulties. Thematic analysis of installer interviews identified eight major themes and confirmed the importance of both clinical and technical knowledge during the telehealth installation process.

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