The Role, Benefits, and Future of Telehealth Nursing
Telehealth long predates COVID-19, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that most people became aware of it. Due to the stringent government guidelines to curb the virus, in-person consultations dropped as Telehealth visits increased 38 times. While the transition to digital services may not have been the most straightforward process, it changed most people’s perception of remote consultation.
Besides the convenience of not visiting the doctor’s office, experts noted that Telehealth did improve patient outcomes since it promotes patient engagement. The following is how Telehealth has impacted nursing
How has Telehealth technology impacted nursing?
Telehealth has eliminated barriers that would hinder patients from accessing health services. These include geographical location and physical inability. Patients can now interact with their healthcare providers through technological devices such as smartphones and computers. While this has brought numerous benefits, including convenience and reduced cost, it also presents challenges.
Nurses need to be tech-savvy to manage technical issues and provide quality patient care. For this reason, healthcare providers need to develop skills that prepare them to deliver healthcare services virtually. An in-patient consultation may differ from an online session due to different factors such as lack of physical contact. For example, non-verbal cues may help nurses pick on some vital points or clarify misunderstandings, which may not be the case in a virtual consultation.
Nurses are now learning new strategies to fill in the gaps of a Telehealth consultation. For example, the teach-back technique ensures no misunderstandings between patients and healthcare providers. Using this method, nurses ask the patients to repeat the given instructions, allowing the former to identify misunderstandings and clarify any confusion.
Benefits of Telehealth
Telehealth allows patients to access quality healthcare services whenever needed, translating to improved health outcomes. When one can’t make a trip to the doctor, they can have an online video conferencing session with their doctor and still benefit from it. Nurses and other healthcare providers can also attend to more patients than a traditional setting would allow. There is less paperwork since most of the processes are automated, simplifying the duties of a nurse.
How can nurses develop Telehealth skills?
Nurses can learn these technical skills by returning to school for an advanced academic program. Today, most nursing programs incorporate Telehealth nursing skills into their coursework. This includes training nurses on maintaining patient confidentiality while offering online services. If you are a licensed practical nurse, you may consider a bachelor’s degree in nursing that provides Telehealth skills. For registered nurses with a degree in nursing, a Master’s degree that also offers this coursework may be an option.
Other ways in which nurses can develop Telehealth skills include:
- Listening to podcasts
Sometimes reading and going back to school can be time-consuming, or you might not have the time for that. If that is the case for you, you can listen to a podcast that equips you with Telehealth skills. The good thing with podcasts is that they don’t take much of your time, and you can listen to them while doing other activities such as driving to work.
- Attend Telehealth summits and conferences
Conferences, conventions, and summits are opportunities for you to build your network and form more profound and more meaningful relationships. Attending one which offers Telehealth education is one way to enrich your knowledge. Besides learning about Telehealth skills, you also interact with like-minded people.
- Join forums and discussion groups
Discussion groups help you share knowledge and gain more from other nurses and experts. During sessions, you ask questions and discover new information about Telehealth and what it entails. Besides supplementing and enriching your knowledge, group discussions also benefit personal development.
What is the future of Telehealth in nursing?
The benefits of Telehealth are numerous, but this new approach has its challenges. For example, rural areas with limited access to broadband internet may not benefit from this improved approach. Other issues such as coverage by private insurance companies limit the success of Telehealth. However, due to the rapid change resulting from the pandemic, more providers and policymakers are integrating Telehealth into medical care. Although there may be differences, the role of a nurse in Telehealth is no different than in-person nursing.
Nurses now have the challenge to develop Telehealth skills as that is the future’s trajectory. Not only is Telehealth improving the lives of patients but also those of health providers.