Implementation Considerations for Telehealth Programs Serving People Who Are Incarcerated
Providing telehealth services to people who are incarcerated in rural correctional facilities can ensure that
inmates receive timely access to care. Telehealth programs can also help reduce safety risks to security
personnel as well as costs, such as those associated with inmate transportation.
One study of telepsychiatry in prison
settings found that technical issues were the most persistent challenge to providing telehealth services
in correctional facilities, due to strong firewall protections that can make it difficult to gain internet
access to the facilities. Other barriers include unreliable servers that can make it difficult to maintain
live-video connection. Rural telehealth programs seeking to provide services to people in correctional
facilities may need to build strong relationships with prison administrators in order to find ways to overcome
technical barriers to telehealth adoption.
One important consideration for implementing telehealth in correctional facilities is the need
for private spaces to hold consults. When small, private spaces are not available for telehealth visits,
correctional facilities may be able to convert a larger area into separate cubicles, but privacy of each patient
must be maintained.
Resources to Learn More
Prisons Turn to Telemedicine to Improve Health and Save Money
Describes the benefits and challenges of implementing telehealth services in a state prison for treating
prisoners. Discusses improved access to specialty care for prisoners, lessening the security risk for providers,
and reduction in cost of care.
Author(s): Ollove, M.
and Telecommunication Opportunities in the Criminal Justice System
Provides examples of how telehealth can support the criminal justice system by increasing access to screening
for behavioral health, case management, counseling, and medication management.
Organization(s): Council of State Governments Justice Center
Telehealth: Increasing Access to High Quality
Care by Expanding the Role of Technology in Correctional Medicine
Presents the results of a literature review demonstrating the uses and benefits of telemedicine that could lead
to increased access to care, improved clinical outcomes, and decreased costs when implemented in prisons and
Author(s): Young, J.D. & Badowski, M.E.
Citation: Journal of Clinical Medicine, 6(2), 20