Telehealth nursing is what is known now as healthcare counseling over the phone. As technology advances, telehealth nursing capabilities are improving to allow nurses to reach patients, educate individuals about their condition, monitor patient health, and interact with patients using computers, telephony, and visual equipment.
Telehealth nursing occurs when a caregiver – usually a nurse – uses connected technology to deliver care and provide instruction or guidance to a patient. The patient is generally in a remote, off-site location, typically far removed from the clinician. Care is provided over a long distance, usually to rural areas. In other cases, people in underserved areas can receive care where there may not be adequate care otherwise.
“Telehealth nursing” also is known generically as “telehealth” and “telepractice” – interchangeable terms used widely throughout healthcare. Providers (nurses) who offer care to patients via telehealth technology are from all care settings and able to connect with patients anywhere there is an Internet connection. Telehealth nursing can also be used for supporting a patient with chronic conditions, like diabetes or heart disease, where the nurse can check-in at scheduled intervals to encourage and motivate a patient to stay on track regarding a recommended protocol.
The benefits of telehealth nursing are numerous, but the most obvious is that quality care is provided to rural or underserved patients more quickly than traditional care delivery. Likewise, diagnosis and monitoring of patient health are possible.
Telehealth capabilities increase the productivity of nurses providing care as they can provide care to more patients in a shorter time versus their traveling to remote locations to care for single patients one at a time.
Telehealth capabilities also allow nurses to monitor patients remotely. Remote monitoring technology can be used for a host of patients, from newborns to the elderly, in an outpatient setting.
Another benefit of telehealth nursing is happier patients. The majority of patients prefer easy access to care provided to them remotely versus in-person visits. Telehealth is essential for convenience and can encourage the attendance of appointments and reduce long travel times for individuals in remote or underserved areas.
Patients and family members save an average of $50 in travel costs and recoup about an hour by using telehealth technology, according to a study by Nemours Children’s Health System. Telehealth appointments can cost less per patient, too.
Improving patient care is among the most prominent benefits of telehealth. Medical practices that add telehealth nursing capabilities allow for the ability to provide on-demand care. Remote or homebound patients often are unable to miss work or leave home for appointments. Telehealth lets these individuals connect to care with more people more quickly.
Patients in rural areas also can receive better access to care that is otherwise limited. According to the National Rural Health Association, obstacles faced by rural citizens are far different than those faced by people in urban areas. Educational shortcomings, cultural and economic limitations also factor heavily, not to mention isolation.
Patient-to-primary caregiver ratios in rural areas are only about 40 physicians per 100,000 residents compared to about 54 physicians per 100,000 people in urban areas. Rural residents also tend to be financially more impoverished, participate more in government-backed food and nutrition programs, face transportation issues –– they smoke more, and generally are less healthy.
Rural residents also encounter more accident-related deaths than urban-based folks; there are more occurrences of heart-related health issues and diabetes; mental health challenges are more prevalent in remote areas. Rural youth are more likely to commit suicide, too.
By implementing telehealth capabilities, nurses can treat more of these individuals and their conditions quicker.
While the benefits of telehealth nursing are numerous, however, there are a few barriers. Because the Internet makes telehealth possible, lack of Internet access or poor connections negatively affects telehealth capabilities. Similarly, for those individuals who are not technology savvy, anything related to telehealth may seem tricky or challenging to navigate.
Likewise, any equipment malfunctions can lead to missed appointments or lack of care, especially troubling when care is critical.
Some say that patient privacy is at risk, too, during telehealth. For example, during the consultation, a patient should be alone. If not, their personal information might be compromised. Clinicians also must be in a private location during such consults.
Nurses can provide care anywhere because of telehealth technology. From home, a doctor’s office, hospitals, medical centers – where there is an Internet connection, care is possible.
Currently, there are no licensure requirements for telehealth services. Nurses that practice telehealth may need to seek the required permissions to practice in multiple areas, regions or states, however. Telehealth nurses must possess a properly registered nurse license that complies with federal regulation, too.
Telehealth nurses must also meet standards of care for safety and quality. The American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses and the American Nurses Association provide rules related to telehealth nursing care.
Some international standards exist, too, for telehealth. For example, through the International Council of Nursing, standards are available to nurses in about 130 countries.
Nurses who provide care through telehealth means must comply with HIPAA confidentiality requirements, as well.
Virtual care and telehealth capabilities play an integral role in the future of healthcare overall, especially improving the patient experience and improving patient access to care, as well as making care more convenient.
Telehealth technologies are making remote care possible, and the most advanced patient communication solutions allow conversations by text, voice, or video. Virtual care has the power to reduce costs, improve patient access, outcomes and satisfaction, and can be useful for better serving individuals in remote, rural, and underserved areas.
Telehealth-provided nursing care also leads to happier patients, and more people treated quicker.
Telehealth nursing can lead to better care integration. When partnering with TigerConnect, there are three significant benefits gained by health organizations: TigerConnect provides better clinical communications to health systems, so team collaboration improves, patient communication thrives, and connections to patients are available through secure mobile devices.
TigerConnect technology helps make the provision of care more accessible for a nurse, no matter their location.
TigerConnect also helps nurses access real-time patient data at the point of care, providing integration between clinical communication platforms and vital hospital systems. Real-time alerts, for example, and other patient data are then intelligently delivered to the correct recipients. TigerConnect also allows for virtual care that supports direct communications between care professionals and patients over text, voice, or video.
See how TigerConnect helps 6,000+ healthcare teams collaborate seamlessly across the hall or across the health system.
TigerConnect is healthcare’s most widely adopted communication platform – uniquely modernizing care collaboration among doctors, nurses, patients, and care teams. TigerConnect is the only solution that combines a consumer-like user experience for text, video, and voice communication with serious security, privacy, and clinical workflow requirements that today’s healthcare organizations demand. TigerConnect accelerates productivity, reduces costs, and improves patient outcomes.
Trusted by more than 6,000 healthcare organizations, TigerConnect maintains 99.99% verifiable uptime and processes more than 10 million messages each day. To learn more about TigerConnect visit www.tigerconnect.com.