Telehealth technology is available world-wide to support healthcare and education at a distance for patients and health professionals. To understand their current use of telehealth, and any barriers, an on-line survey was developed and distributed to all nurse educators within one District Health Board in New Zealand.
Despite telehealth being used commonly internationally, the uptake and widespread use of this technology in New Zealand remains disappointing. The literature identifies barriers including lack of engagement from staff, hard-to-use equipment, insufficient technical support and set-up costs. However, little was known about the experience and use of telehealth by nurse educators in the District Health Board that was the site for this study. The survey was distributed in late 2016 to all 33 nurse educators and 19 (57%) responded.
Whilst 79% believe telehealth is either ‘important’ or ‘somewhat important’ within their role, only 31% use telehealth; of those 68%, it was considered that they practice telehealth at a novice level. Easy-to-use, reliable equipment, training, support, leadership and local champions were the most important factors identified for promoting telehealth; whilst the impersonal nature, potential security and confidentiality issues were considered least important.
Further education and encouragement is needed to increase telehealth use by nurse educators so that the benefits of providing education to nurses at a distance, such as those in rural hospitals, can be achieved. There are also opportunities for those more experienced and confident using telehealth, to mentor and support other nurse educators.
Key words: Telehealth; nurse educators; barriers.