As telehealth becomes more mainstream in US healthcare, nurses have been at the forefront of testing new technologies. As they spend so much time with patients, they are perfectly placed to try out the latest innovations to determine if they work, and how effective they are.
Telehealth isn’t a new concept, but it became popular during the COVID-19 pandemic when resources were strained and there was an urgent need to keep the rate of new infections down. Rather than have patients visit hospitals to get treatment for minor ailments, Americans were encouraged to contact their healthcare providers electronically. The idea was to prevent hospitals and clinics from being exposed to the virus.
The pandemic is now over, but healthcare providers have discovered that they are on to a good thing with telehealth. It has become popular in the last couple of years because it reduces congestion in facilities and helps keep costs down.
For nurses, it has proved to be an innovative and efficient way to care for patients. Rather than have them visit the hospital for every checkup, diagnosis, or to renew a script, they can talk via video link. It saves time, and nurses can now care for more patients without overly straining themselves.
When preparing for a nursing career, it is important to think about the role of telehealth and how it will affect nursing in the long run. Most nursing courses now include an element of technology.
Why telehealth for nurse practitioners?
New technology in nursing has the potential to impact and benefit every nurse’s career. Nursing degrees at Walsh University enable students to gain knowledge and learn new skills in the field, and develop skills to help them with better communication among care teams, routine task automation and streamline patient record access.
The curriculum at Walsh University covers topics such as clinical mobility, predictive analytics to create patient treatment and care plans, mobile robotic systems, AI in decision-making, and remote patient monitoring. Nurses who are familiar with the role of technology in healthcare and how they can use it to help patients are highly valued by employers, stand a better chance of climbing the career ladder, and deliver better quality patient care.
When choosing a nursing course, it is important to look out for ones with an element of technology, so that by the time students qualify, they know how to use basic technologies to help patients. Before enrolling, students may want to explore these new technologies, how they impact patient care, and the opportunities they present for nurses in the digital age.
What is telehealth in nursing?
Telehealth is the use of technologies to deliver healthcare, health administration, and health education. It involves the use of anything from complex technologies like integration of patient records and predictive analysis, to simple technologies like communication with patients via video link.
How has it impacted nursing practice?
Nurses are among some of the top beneficiaries of innovation in telemedicine and below are some of the ways it has changed how they deliver healthcare.
They can serve more patients
The life of a typical nurse is busy; depending on where they work in the hospital, they are constantly on the move attending to patients who visit their facility. They often take on double shifts, and it isn’t unusual for nurses in large hospitals to find themselves doing triple shifts during busy periods.
However, much time they put in, many find that they cannot attend to as many patients as they would like. Time is finite, and they can only treat or care for so many people on any given day.
Telemedicine has changed this. Nurses can now attend to more patients because it takes less time to attend to each person. It has eliminated the need for check-in at the hospital reception, the triage process, and the movement of patients through different departments within the hospital.
All a nurse needs to do is schedule video calls with patients and then call them to discuss their health. If they are just checking in, the nurse can simply go through a checklist with the patient to make sure that they are meeting the milestones required for recovery. If a patient is ill, they can describe their symptoms, and the nurse can electronically send them a prescription. They can even have their medications delivered from their local pharmacy.
The net effect is that nurses can now attend to many more patients than before because telehealth has eliminated many time-consuming processes.
They can serve remote patients
Historically, remote communities in the US have been medically underserved. Few nurses and doctors are willing to set up camp in these places, and in many cases, patients must travel long distances to receive diagnosis and treatment.
Telemedicine is changing this. Patients can now call their healthcare provider via apps like Zoom and Skype and describe their symptoms. After, they can get a prescription and their drugs delivered to their door.
Nurses don’t have to travel far to get to their patients anymore. So long as they have a decent internet connection, they can keep in touch through mobile devices to diagnose and treat. They can also provide education and advice to those in rural communities through remote technology.
They can monitor chronically ill patients
Chronically ill patients need constant monitoring, and it can be an expensive and time-consuming process for nurses to keep up every day. Telehealth has made things much easier, as all the home carer must do is call the nurse once or twice daily to update them on the patient’s status.
They can deliver patient-centered care
Patient-centered care is the newest thing in healthcare, and it means that decisions that are made about the treatment and care of a patient are done with their participation.
Telehealth has made patient-centered care even easier because the nurse communicates directly with the patient, getting a first-hand account of their symptoms. As they design care plans, they can get the patient’s opinion and direct feedback on whether those plans are working.
Nurses can get additional training
Smart nurses understand the value of additional education to grow their careers, and they seek out higher education to get the qualifications they need to become either managers or specialists in certain fields. Telehealth has been a welcome relief for many nurses who seek to do additional courses because they now have more time to focus on their studies.
They can enroll in online nursing courses or other courses that are necessary to advance their career, and they can do them successfully because telemedicine provides more flexible schedules.
Using telehealth to climb the career ladder faster
Employers are looking for nurses who have demonstrable skills in technology and telecommunications. They are willing to pay them more, and they promote them to become managers, supervisors, and heads of departments.
Today, one of the easiest ways to climb the nursing career ladder is to enroll in a nursing course with a focus on telehealth. For those who qualify, it doesn’t take very long to secure employment, and they often enjoy better salaries than those who focus on traditional nursing practice.
The future for telehealth nurse professionals
The telehealth revolution is here, and it will keep moving forward. In the future, it is expected that there will be better innovations in communications, updating and maintenance of patient records, online diagnosis and treatment, and home monitoring.
Nurses who understand and know how to use these innovations will be better placed to care for patients, and this will make them highly employable. Not only will it be easier for them to get jobs, but they will also attract higher salaries and bigger benefits.
For interested individuals, this is the time to get on the bandwagon so they can keep up with things as they evolve. Those considering enrolling as a nursing student should find a course that has a strong focus on telehealth.
A practicing nurse who would like to gain the requisite skills may consider taking a master’s course or can look for shorter courses that teach nurses how to use the latest innovations in telemedicine.
The future for telenursing is bright and it belongs to those who stay informed with the latest in the industry. Innovation is moving forward at a rapid pace, and it is only those who keep up who will make the most of what telehealth offers.
Nursing has always been a demanding but rewarding profession, and now telehealth promises to revolutionize it. Due to the use of technology and all the modern advancements in patient diagnosis and care, nursing is an even more rewarding career than before.
For nurses at the beginning of a career or those who are already a practicing nurse and would like to add to their skills, telehealth courses for nurses are something that should be considered.