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Implementing Telemedicine in Correctional Facilities

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2002
80 pages
Publication Series
This report presents comprehensive information for correctional administrators across the country exploring the planning and implementation of a telemedicine system in their respective correctional facilities, promoting improved inmate health care.
Telemedicine has been under development in the United States for nearly 40 years. It is seen as most useful in situations where physical barriers hinder contact between patients and health care providers, such as correctional facilities. In correctional facility environments, telemedicine uses telecommunications equipment that allows health care providers to see and diagnose inmates in prisons located far from health care providers’ offices. This report provides information in a manual/guide form that can be used by correctional administrators who are evaluating the potential of telemedicine as an acceptable approach in providing medical care in their facility. Information in the report is based on the findings of a 1999 report that showed how telemedicine can reduce correctional health care costs. The report begins with a discussion on the decision process in planning for a telemedicine program which entails the need to examine the medical services currently being provided. Once telemedicine is selected, correctional administrators must develop an action plan for the implementation of telemedicine. It must be determined how the telemedicine system will be used based on facility needs. Correctional administrators must determine performance and communication requirements of the telemedicine system, as well as the recruiting and training of personnel for the telemedicine operation. After careful implementation, the system must be evaluated to determine it has demonstrated improved services, with emphasis on the cost-benefit factor. Appendices contain tools for evaluating and planning the costs of a telemedicine program.

Date Published: May 1, 2002