Telehealth is a wonderful piece of technology that can provide numerous benefits, not only for patients but for doctors as well. Nurses, however, can also take advantage of telehealth in order to better perform their jobs. There are pros and cons, though, although the benefits far outweigh its limitations.
If used correctly, telehealth is capable of many great things, which would result in better overall satisfaction for patients, lower costs and expenses, and a wider scope of service. Perhaps most importantly, telehealth can bring towards improved overall health for the general public, which is the main purpose of the business model in the first place.
Here, we will discuss how telehealth help nurses do more and be more productive, as well as the challenges that this particular area of telehealth has that may prevent it from moving further forward.
What Can Be Done with Telehealth Nursing?
Telehealth nursing is more than just a nurse addressing inquiries over the phone. Through some great advances in technology, nurses can now communicate via video for various purposes. This can include scheduling patients for appointments, or offering first-level aid to those with injuries or mild medical conditions.
Nurses can also provide additional information especially for those who would need to take care of themselves at home. Clarifying treatment procedures and medication doses are also well within nurses’ abilities using telehealth.
In addition, nurses can help keep those waiting for emergency services calm while dispatching ambulances to take the patient to the hospital. They can also use telehealth to assess whether a patient would need to go to the emergency room for admittance, or if treatment can be done in a clinic or at home.
Nurses, using store and forward technology, may also assist to forward tests and images to a doctor for analysis and diagnosis. Lastly, telehealth allows nurses to constantly monitor the vital signs of patients using devices that can instantly sync data into systems for viewing and review.
Benefits of Telehealth Nursing
Telehealth nursing provides a lot of benefits that certainly adds value to the technology. Some of the advantages of providing nurses with the ability to utilize telehealth technology for their everyday functions include:
- Better patient engagement
- 24/7 monitoring of patients
- 24/7 availability of medical attention
- Availability of first level diagnosis and medical aid
- Lower overhead costs
- No queues for patients
- Decongested hospitals and clinics
- Less travel time required
- Instant access to information through centralized systems
- Shortened process flow and turnaround times
- Increased patient satisfaction
- Accessibility for patients is increased
- Decreased risk of infection
While some benefits are specific to the health industry and its workers, the patients, or both, it can be concluded that what telehealth does is create a more harmonious and effective environment for the entire health care industry.
Telehealth is a constantly evolving technology, and more features are being developed every day. Current functionalities are also being enhanced for ease of use and to further improve benefits that telehealth has to offer.
As telehealth technology further improves, so will the number of advantages of adopting this business model increase as well.
Limitations of Telehealth Nursing
Just like any type of technology, telehealth also has its limitations. The first and foremost challenge in implementing telehealth is the skill and capability of the nurses themselves to use such technology. Some countries such as the United States provide certifications under the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Organizations such as the AACC are very important as they are capable of providing guidelines and regulations with regard to the use of telehealth. These organizations also provide continuing education programs in order to help keep nurses up to date to current technologies and advances.
As with anything done online, telehealth also poses risks with regards to privacy, safety, and confidentiality. Leaks through hacks, systems left open, or even simple gossip are barriers which make acceptance of telehealth a bit difficult, especially those who value such matters the most.
As such, regulations with regard to the use of telehealth are implemented. Aside from SSL security, telehealth systems must be HIPAA compliant. Users must also adhere to a strict set of rules as regulated by governing bodies within respective countries, and any infractions may make the entity responsible for penalties and damages.
Perhaps the largest obstacle hindering the growth of telehealth is the resistance of stakeholders in the use of this technology. Each party, whether it be doctors, patients, or insurance companies, have their own fears which they think would occur once telehealth becomes the normal channel for health care.
With this in mind, steps must be taken to provide all stakeholders with relevant facts and data that will ensure that their concerns are not certain in light of telehealth’s rise. The government must also show strong support towards initiatives to push telehealth as a new, albeit optional, medium of health care.
Can You Access Telehealth Nursing Facilities?
Everyone can have access to telehealth nursing assistance, for as long as your hospital or clinic of choice has these types of facilities set up.
Take note, though, that some countries may require at least one physical visit before telehealth services can be provided.
If you are covered under your public health care program, you may also inquire about coverage when telehealth nursing services are utilized.
Some countries, such as Australia, do not cover telehealth services under Medicare unless certain qualifications are met. These restrictions, however, have been lifted in light of the current COVID 19 pandemic.
Telehealth is a technology that is often defined as online communication between doctors and patients. However, nurses definitely should not be left out, as a huge bulk of their work can be migrated towards telehealth.
In fact, they often serve as front liners, being the first ones that face patients even before doctors.
Telehealth can also assist in a lot of administrative work, which results in a faster turnaround time. This is a very powerful advantage especially when every call may literally be a life and death situation.
As such, telehealth nursing can really be a lifesaving tool and is a highly recommended addition to the ways that we can access health care services.