The 21st century is the era of the digital age. Communication has never been easier and is faster than ever. We are able to connect with anyone around the globe within a matter of seconds. Telecommunication has allowed a new modality, also known as telehealth, to emerge. Telehealth enables us to care for our physical and mental wellbeing from the comfort of our home. Telehealth/Telemedicine has helped us access remote healthcare basically from wherever we want.
Similarly, Telehealth nursing is another Telehealth spectrum that allows us to access telenursing, telehealthcare, tele practices & Tele counseling over the phone, video conference calls, internet, apps, and much more.
Telehealth nursing helps patients determine whether they need to seek emergency care or make an in-person appointment with a physician. It can even offer proper patient counseling on post-hospital admission care. All of this can be done by assessing a patient’s condition over a telecommunication device.
Telehealth can be practiced by any registered nurse in Physician’s Offices, Hospitals, Trauma, centers, Crisis hotlines, Outpatient care facilities, Poison control centers and is connected to the patient via telehealth system either incorporated by any medical organization or some middle party apps that offer this smooth connection between patients and healthcare providers.
What Does a Telehealth Nurse Do?
The major responsibilities of telehealth nursing can be briefly summarized as
- Scheduling doctor’s appointment and referral to specialists
- Delivering medical advice to patients about their current problems and their nursing care via phone, video calls & video chats
- Educating patients on different ways to manage their symptoms
- Monitoring patient’s oxygen levels, health rate, respiration, and blood glucose
- Supporting medical response teams in bringing patients into the hospital
- Pre-surgical and post-surgical care
- Assisting doctors in reducing patient load
- Advising the patient to visit a care site according to the severity of the symptoms
- Providing medical advice for patients with minor health issues
Pros and Cons of Telehealth Nursing
While we are addressing the services telenursing can provide, let’s dig deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of this technology.
The Pros of Telehealth Nursing
- Time-saving for both nurses and patients,
- Carries zero risk for transmission of communicable disease from patients to nurse and vice versa,
- Cost-effective and less expensive than urgent care clinics or visit,
- At times of natural calamities proper medical advice at the proper time can be delivered.
- A 2014 article has acknowledged the benefit of telenursing in decreasing the on-call hours for healthcare providers, and increment in patient retention at the hospital or doctor’s clinic.
The Cons Telehealth Nursing
- The patient may eventually still need to visit their healthcare providers to get care that is not possible over telecommunication platforms such as post-surgical dressing/care, diagnostic imaging, etc.
- Furthemore, online telecommunication requires both parties involved to have a proper internet connection with adequate bandwidth and this can pose a problem in communicating with patients in a rural setting.
- Most insurance agencies do not cover the cost of telenursing so the patients may have to bear the expenses of the telenursing facility themselves. This may increase the financial burden to the patients.
- Basic patient details need to be filled in before accessing the telenursing facility which may include personal contact numbers, emails, home address, and lots of private information according to the care required. Therefore all these personal details are stored in a cloud telehealth system. These clouds can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks, data leakage, unauthorized access to the data, and many more. So confidentiality is a greater concern with these technologies.
How can one become a Telehealth Nurse?
Becoming a telehealth nurse requires you to be a registered nurse in your state, province or country. Every country or state may have a different educational, i.e. theoretical & practical assessment before becoming a licensed nurse. You must be a licensed nursing practitioner with some experience to be enrolled in the telehealth system of telenursing.
Scope of Telehealth Nursing
Telenursing jobs are one of the most well-paid jobs with an expected growth of 12% and an annual wage of $73,300 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Telenursing has now been entailed as a very crucial addition to the healthcare system as a whole. According to the latest CDC reports, a whopping 154% increase in telehealth visits has been seen in March 2020 compared to March 2019. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, we can see more and more of our attention diverted towards telehealth communication systems like teleradiology, telepharmacy, telepsychology and now telenursing is another unique technology to deliver patient quality care. With the increase in telehealth nursing, increment in patient adherence to care, and improvement in access to care, monitoring the safety of patients has never been easier.
- Why Nurses Are Crucial to the Growth of Telehealth | HealthTech Magazine. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2021, from https://healthtechmagazine.net/article/2020/06/why-nurses-are-crucial-growth-telehealth
- A Day in the Life of a Telehealth Nurse | Article | NursingCenter. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2021, from https://www.nursingcenter.com/journalarticle?Article_ID=3126827&Journal_ID=2695880&Issue_ID=3126647
- Mataxen, P. A., & Denise Webb, L. (2019). Telehealth nursing: More than just a phone call. In Nursing (Vol. 49, Issue 4, pp. 11–13). Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.NURSE.0000553272.16933.4b
- Schlachta-Fairchild, L., Elfrink, V., & Deickman, A. (2008). Patient Safety, Telenursing, and Telehealth. In Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21328785
- 4 Steps to Becoming a Telehealth Nurse in 2021 | Salary & Requirements. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2021, from https://nurse.org/resources/telehealth-nurse/
- How To Become a Telehealth Nurse | NurseJournal.org. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2021, from https://nursejournal.org/careers/telehealth-nurse/
- How Does Telemedicine Work? Use of Telemedicine & Telehealth. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2021, from https://evisit.com/resources/how-does-telemedicine-work/