CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Laurie P Dringus

Committee Member

Marti Snyder

Committee Member

Steve Terrell


The implementation of telehealth applications is resource intensive and fraught with challenges unique to the people and places involved. The use of telehealth to provide clinical care to patients, educate patients and providers, and conduct research studies to advance medical science has been shown to positively affect issues of access and the quality of care. Previous research has focused on the use of specific technologies, known barriers to adoption and diffusion, and the general efficacy of these applications. Few studies have researched the role champions play in the deployment and operation of telehealth networks. The researcher proposed conducting an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) of clinicians, educators and technical professionals within a successful telehealth network to determine the lived experiences that identify them as champions in the field.

Three research questions were studied: 1) What do telehealth champions believe to be the human elements necessary to advance telehealth systems?; 2) How do these telehealth champions explain their empowerment during the creation and use of telehealth networks?; and 3) How do these champions use shared processes and experiences to help spur engagement? Semi-structured interviews with 16 champions from the three disciplines were conducted to explore their lived experiences as part of a telehealth network. Seven champion themes - modern pioneers; champion teams; agents of change; knowledge brokers; supported by management; advocates, not champions; and well-prepared visionaries - emerged from the iterative review and analysis of data. Findings suggest that telehealth champions are not born but instead created. They are modern pioneers who function as part of innovative telehealth teams. Champions also serve as agents of change who utilize their knowledge of disruptive technologies to advocate for improvement in established healthcare systems. They are problem solvers who serve as resources for their colleagues, organizations and collaborative networks. Telehealth champions channel the universal goals of improving patient care and expanding healthcare access to overcome adoption barriers. Applying the ideals of what it means to be champions and how they overcome barriers to new telehealth applications could prove to be very beneficial for those tasked with developing new networks.