Clinicians’ Perceptions of Telemedicine for Conducting Family Conferences Prior to Transfer to a Tertiary Care Center Intensive Care Unit

  • Prema R Menon University of Vermont College of Medicine
  • Terry Rabinowitz University of Vermont
  • Patrick Prelock University of Vermont
  • Gail L Rose University of Vermont
  • Renee D Stapleton Univerity of Vermont
Keywords: telemedicine, palliative care, communication in the ICU, telemedicine and communication, rural health care


Objectives: Critically ill patients are often transferred from rural to tertiary care medical centres for further higher levels of care. The transportation process may delay family conferences during which prognosis and goals of care are discussed. These conferences typically occur when family members meet the treating physicians for the first time in person after transport. Telemedicine is a tool that may be used to bridge this gap in communication by enabling these family conferences before transport. There are no data on perceptions of telemedicine used in this setting. We conducted a qualitative study assessing provider perceptions regarding the use of telemedicine for conducting family conferences prior to transport. Methods: Critical care physicians and nurses were invited to view an educational video demonstrating the process of conducting a family conference via telemedicine. Immediately following viewing of the video, physicians and nurses filled out an open-ended questionnaire regarding their thoughts and perceptions of the video and the telemedicine family conference approach. Results: There was a 68% response rate to the surveys. Responses were categorised into two major themes: benefits and barriers. Within the theme of benefits, three sub-themes were identified: satisfaction, knowledge and quality of care. We identified four domains within the theme of barriers: time, perception, technology and logistics. Conclusions: Respondents believe that there may be several benefits including increased satisfaction, improved communication and empowerment of families by dissemination of knowledge. Barriers to the use of this intervention identified include costs, time, technology and negative perceptions of the telemedicine conference.

Author Biography

Prema R Menon, University of Vermont College of Medicine

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine


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How to Cite
Menon, P., Rabinowitz, T., Prelock, P., Rose, G., & Stapleton, R. (2016). Clinicians’ Perceptions of Telemedicine for Conducting Family Conferences Prior to Transfer to a Tertiary Care Center Intensive Care Unit. Journal of the International Society for Telemedicine and EHealth, 4, e20 (1-8). Retrieved from
Original Research