Monitoring health and care needs through the use of telehealthcare devices has been proposed to help alleviate funding concerns in a climate of limited budgets. As well as improving cost effectiveness, such an approach could be used to help individuals live at home for longer. In practice however, these devices often go unused. A qualitative study was carried out to determine the barriers to uptake of these devices from both the perspective of the end user and from key players in the healthcare supply chain.
A qualitative approach was used involving focus groups and interviews. Two UK-based focus groups were held with users and potential users, to assess their views on the wide array of devices available. 27 individuals were involved in the groups, all over the age of 60. Additionally 27 telephone interviews were conducted with key supply chain players to ascertain their views on the barriers to uptake of these devices. A semi-structured interview guide was used. All data were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a thematic approach.
Users were generally unaware of the wide array of devices available and when shown a selection, were often unclear as to their purpose. The interviews revealed extensive barriers to uptake due to lack of awareness, unfamiliar terminology, complex supply routes and costs, resistance from professionals to device usage and lack of expertise.
Public and professional awareness campaigns are required with appropriate funding mechanisms for users to gain access to devices. The numerous barriers identified require systematically addressing, so that device usage is better promoted, enabling individuals to live at home successfully for longer.