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Refining the Implementation of a Hub-and-Spoke Model for TelePain Through Qualitative Inquiry.

Subramaniam S, Chen J, Wilkerson TL, Stevenson L, Kincaid C, Firestone C, Ball SL. Refining the Implementation of a Hub-and-Spoke Model for TelePain Through Qualitative Inquiry. Journal of technology in behavioral science. 2022 Dec 6; 1-11.

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The hub-and-spoke telehealth model leverages centrally located providers who utilize telehealth technology to bring specialized care to medically underserved areas. This model has the potential to promote equitable access to healthcare. However, few studies address how to facilitate the adoption and implementation of hub-and-spoke telehealth. We examined spoke site providers'' experiences with TelePain, a national hub-and-spoke model of interdisciplinary chronic pain care, with a focus on improving future implementation. We conducted semi-structured individual interviews (20-45 min) with 27 VA spoke site providers via teleconferencing between August 2020 and February 2021. Interview transcripts were coded in Atlas.ti 8.0 using deductive (identified a priori and used to build the interview guide) and inductive (emerging) codes. Our analysis identified the following themes stressed by the spoke sites: (1) spoke sites needed to envision how TelePain services would work at their site before deciding to adopt; (2) TelePain implementation needed to fit into local existing care processes; (3) hub sites needed to understand spoke sites'' context (e.g., via needs assessment) to tailor the services accordingly, and (4) hub-and-spoke sites needed to establish bidirectional communication. Our findings provide a practical guide to improve future rollout of hub-and-spoke telehealth models. Recommendations focus on the role of the hub site in promoting program adoption by (1) developing a clear and detailed marketing plan and (2) considering how the program can be adapted to fit the local spoke site context. To improve implementation, hub-and-spoke sites must establish ongoing and consistent bidirectional communication; this is particularly critical in the everchanging post-peak pandemic healthcare system. An important next step is the development of recommendations and guidelines for implementing hub-and-spoke telehealth, as well as examining pain outcomes for patients touched by this program.

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