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The purpose of this qualitative evaluation was to explore the experience of implementing routine telemonitoring (TM) in real-world primary care settings from the perspective of those delivering the intervention; namely the TM staff, and report on lessons learned that could inform future projects of this type.
Routine TM for high-risk patients within primary care practices may help improve chronic disease control and reduce complications, including unnecessary hospital admissions. However, little is known about how to integrate routine TM in busy primary care practices. A TM pilot for diabetic patients was attempted in six primary care practices as part of the Beacon Community in Western New York.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with representatives of three TM agencies (n=8) participating in the pilot. Interviews were conducted over the phone or in person and lasted ~30 min. Interviews were audio-taped and transcribed. Analysis was conducted using immersion-crystallization to identify themes.
TM staff revealed several themes related to the experience of delivering TM in real-world primary care: (1) the nurse–patient relationship is central to a successful TM experience, (2) TM is a useful tool for understanding socio-economic context and its impact on patients’ health, (3) TM staff anecdotally report important potential impacts on patient health, and (4) integrating TM into primary care practices needs to be planned carefully.
This qualitative study identified challenges and unexpected benefits that might inform future efforts. Communication and integration between the TM agency and the practice, including the designation of a point person within the office to coordinate TM and help address the broader contextual needs of patients, are important considerations for future implementation. The role of the TM nurse in developing trust with patients and uncovering the social and economic context within which patients manage their diabetes was an unexpected benefit.