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J Telemed Telecare. 2007;13(8):382-6.

Adoption of telemedicine in Scottish remote and rural general practices: a qualitative study.

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Centre for Rural Health, University of Aberdeen, Inverness, UK.


We conducted a qualitative interview study to explore the factors that have facilitated and prevented the adoption of telemedicine in general practice in remote and rural Scotland. Face-to-face interviews were carried out with general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses in 26 of Scotland's most remote practices and five of the seven most rural health boards. The interview study found that GPs were more positive about the use of computers and telemedicine than nurses. Although electronic access to simple data, such as laboratory results, had become widely accepted, most respondents had very little experience of more sophisticated telemedicine applications, such as videoconferencing. There was widespread scepticism about the potential usefulness of clinical applications of telemedicine, although it was perceived to have potential benefit in facilitating access to educational resources. A number of barriers to the adoption of telemedicine were reported, including concerns that videoconferencing could diminish the quality of communication in educational and clinical settings, and that telemedicine would not fit easily with the organizational routines of the practices. Policy-makers should prioritize strategies to develop educational programmes, as these are more likely to succeed than clinical initiatives. It may then follow that clinicians will see opportunities for use in their clinical work.

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