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Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2019 Sep;36(9):795-800. doi: 10.1177/1049909119829458. Epub 2019 Feb 25.

TeleHospice: A Community-Engaged Model for Utilizing Mobile Tablets to Enhance Rural Hospice Care.

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1 Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Clinical Oncology, The University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, KS, USA.
2 University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA.
3 Midwest Cancer Alliance, Fairway, KS, USA.
4 Hospice Services and Palliative Care of Northwest Kansas, Inc, Phillipsburg, KS, USA.



In rural communities, providing hospice care can be a challenge. Hospice personnel sometimes travel great distances to reach patients, resulting in difficulty maintaining access, quality, cost-effectiveness, and safety. In 1998, the University of Kansas Medical Center piloted the country's first TeleHospice (TH) service. At that time, challenges with broad adoption due to cost and attitudes regarding technology were noted. A second TH project was launched in early 2017 using newer technology; this article updates that ongoing implementation.


The Organizational Change Manager was followed for the guided selection of the hospice partner. The University of Kansas Medical Center partnered with Hospice Services, Inc. (HSI), a leader in rural hospice care, providing services to 16 Kansas counties. Along with mobile tablets, a secure cloud-based videoconferencing solution was chosen for ease of use.


From August 2017 through January 2018, 218 TH videoconferencing encounters including 917 attendees occurred. Calls were made for direct patient care, family support, and administrative purposes. These TH calls have been shown to save HSI money, and initial reports suggest they may strengthen the communication and relationships between staff, patients, and the patient's family.


Finding innovative, cost-effective, and community-driven approaches such as TH are needed to continually advance hospice care. TeleHospice's potential to supplement and improve hospice services while reducing costs is significant, but continued research is needed to understand best fit within frontier hospices, to inform future urban applications, and to address reimbursement.


TeleHospice; cost-effective; enhancing care; palliative medicine; telehealth; telemedicine


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