UCL Institute of Health Informatics


Given the strong evidence base, why is it so hard to introduce telemedicine in prisons?

25 October 2019

Prison telemedicine has been shown to be an effective intervention to improve the cost, access and quality of hospital care for prisoners. A new paper by UCL researchers explores issues that may help or hinder the implementation of prison telemedicine.

Number of publications on prison telemedicine by country

“People in prison face huge issues in trying to access hospital care. Transfers to hospital are limited due to prison officer availability to accompany patients. This means people can wait a very long time to be seen and may have to wait until their health deteriorates to become a priority for transfer,” explained Chantal Edge of the UCL Collaborative Centre for Inclusion Health.


The study, published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, examines the existing literature on prison telemedicine to understand commonalities of success or difficulty in implementing and normalising prison telemedicine. Prison telemedicine models require active participation from both hospital and prison healthcare providers. These providers put in different levels of work, receive different and often unequal benefits, and see different barriers to implementation. Further to this, all of these issues are embedded within the security conscious context of the justice system, which will take precedence over healthcare operations.


This review was led by Chantal Edge, NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow, with co-authors Dr Julie George (Institute of Health Informatics), Professor Andrew Hayward (UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, UCL Collaborative Centre for Inclusion Health), Dr Georgia Black (Department of Applied Health Research), Mrs Emma King (UCL Collaborative Centre for Inclusion Health)and Dr Shamir Patel (Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust Offender Care)

To read the full paper visit the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare website.

Edge CL, Black G, King E, George J, Patel S, Hayward A (2019) Improving care quality with prison telemedicine: The effects of context and multiplicity on successful implementation and use. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, https://doi.org/10.1177/1357633X19869131