Sensemaking and Telehealth: Examining the Adoption and Normalisation of Remote Monitoring for Community Nursing

What inhibits and promotes successful adoption of telehealth for nursing practice?

This seminar presentation discusses the role of telehealth for community nursing, using the concept of ‘sensemaking’ as a framework to examine the factors that inhibit or alternatively promote the successful adoption of telehealth for nursing practice.

Telehealth technologies are designed to facilitate and deliver elements of patient care traditionally carried out by clinicians, and are increasingly viewed by policy makers as a solution to meet the demands of a growing patient population while at the same time introduce efficiency savings. Yet the introduction of telehealth brings with it uncertainties about the impact on clinical practice, with frontline staff acceptance identified as a key barrier to implementation. This research examined acceptance and utilization of telehealth in routine community nursing practice, analysing qualitative interview data collected from 105 staff involved in the implementation and delivery of telehealth for patients with long-term conditions.

Adoption of telehealth for community nursing was found to be a fluid and fragile process during which nurse perceptions evolved as they began to make sense of the practice of remote monitoring through experience and reflective learning. This period of sensemaking was found to help reduce uncertainties about how to utilize telehealth effectively and drive forward service improvements as new understandings about remote monitoring were developed. The incremental nature of implementation enabled nursing staff to establish trust and confidence in a re-conceptualized telehealth and start to negotiate its role in the care pathway. Ensuring that opportunities for sensemaking are established when new innovations are introduced into practice is argued to be an important facilitator for successful adoption.

The research presented here is part of a wider project, MALT (Overcoming the Barriers to Mainstreaming Assisted Living Technologies), which aims to identify the barriers and facilitators to integrating telehealth into healthcare practice.


Dr Jo Nicholson (Rehabilitation and Assistive Research Group, University of Sheffield)


Dr Jo Nicholson joined the Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Research Group at the University of Sheffield in 2013. She is currently working on the MALT study, examining frontline staff acceptance of telehealth, and working with community healthcare services as they implement and evaluate changes to their use of remote care technologies. Jo holds a PhD from the University of York, which explored how treatment decisions are made for seriously ill children and young people. As an applied health researcher, Jo has particular expertise in health-care decision making, and in conducting research with healthcare organisations and people with long-term health conditions.

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