“From the technology came the idea”: safe implementation and operation of a high quality teleradiology model increasing access to timely breast cancer assessment services for women in rural Australia

Johnston, Karen, Smith, Deborah, Preston, Robyn, Evans, Rebecca, Carlisle, Karen, Lengren, Janet, Naess, Helen, Phillips, Elizabeth, Shephard, Greg, Lydiard, Lorraine, Lattimore, Debbie, and Larkins, Sarah (2020) “From the technology came the idea”: safe implementation and operation of a high quality teleradiology model increasing access to timely breast cancer assessment services for women in rural Australia. BMC Health Services Research, 20. 1103.

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Abstract: Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian women. Providing timely diagnostic assessment services for screen-detected abnormalities is a core quality indicator of the population-based screening program provided by BreastScreen Australia. However, a shortage of local and locum radiologists with availability and appropriate experience in breast work to attend onsite assessment clinics, limits capacity of services to offer assessment appointments to women in some regional centres. In response to identified need, local service staff developed the remote radiology assessment model for service delivery. This study investigated important factors for establishing the model, the challenges and enablers of successful implementation and operation of the model, and factors important in the provision of a model considered safe and acceptable by service providers.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with service providers at four assessment services, across three jurisdictions in Australia. Service providers involved in implementation and operation of the model at the service and jurisdictional level were invited to participate. A social constructivist approach informed the analysis. Deductive analysis was initially undertaken, using the interview questions as a classifying framework. Subsequently, inductive thematic analysis was employed by the research team. Together, the coding team aggregated the codes into overarching themes.

Results: 55 service providers participated in interviews. Consistently reported enablers for the safe implementation and operation of a remote radiology assessment clinic included: clinical governance support; ability to adapt; strong teamwork, trust and communication; and, adequate technical support and equipment. Challenges mostly related to technology and internet (speed/bandwidth), and maintenance of relationships within the group.

Conclusions: Understanding the key factors for supporting innovation, and implementing new and safe models of service delivery that incorporate telemedicine, will become increasingly important as technology evolves and becomes more accessible. It is possible to take proposed telemedicine solutions initiated by frontline workers and operationalise them safely and successfully: (i) through strong collaborative relationships that are inclusive of key experts; (ii) with clear guidance from overarching bodies with some flexibility for adapting to local contexts; (iii) through establishment of robust teamwork, trust and communication; and, (iv) with appropriate equipment and technical support.

Item ID: 65414
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1472-6963
Keywords: Telemedicine, Telehealth, Teleradiology, Telesonography, Telemammography, Breast cancer, Diagnosis, Primary health care, Rural and remote, Innovation
Copyright Information: © The Author(s). 2020 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commonslicence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Funders: Australian Government Department of Health (AGDH), Queensland Department of Health (QDH), New South Wales Department of Health (NSWDH), Northern Territory Department of Health (NTDH)
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2021 23:25
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420605 Preventative health care @ 50%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420321 Rural and remote health services @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920412 Preventive Medicine @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920506 Rural Health @ 50%
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