Spearheading remote monitoring and patient care
Telehealth and telemedicine are becoming essential support systems in the healthcare industry. The efficiency of telehealth in improving patient care in remote locations with inadequate health infrastructure is heartening.
Telehealth and telemedicine are different
There is a misconception that telehealth and telemedicine are the same. However, telemedicine encompasses only remote clinical services, whereas telehealth includes non-clinical aspects such as health education.
How to become a telehealth nurse?
Anyone aspiring to become a registered nurse should enroll in a nursing program and clear the licensure exam of NCLEX. Students can use online resources and refer to study tips for nursing students. After completing a nursing program and licensure requirements, RNs can apply for positions in telehealth. Telehealth nursing certifications are not mandatory for landing a job in telehealth, but it certainly gives a head-start.
A telehealth nurse needs to be proficient in electronic information and communication. Know-how of digital literacy and familiarization with multi-channel communication toolkits are essential for this role. A telehealth nurse uses these tools online to support patient care remotely through virtual mediums and sometimes even asynchronously over distances.
Importance of telehealth in the healthcare industry
Telehealth services and online consultations have been around for a few years. But the popularity this medium has gained post-pandemic is invaluable.
- Healthcare facilities are increasing their IT infrastructure and hiring nurses with expertise in telehealth services to offer remote patient care for those who cannot commute to a clinic.
- Patients can now access high-quality healthcare from remote locations. They don’t have to miss work or family vacations to keep up with their clinical appointments. The comfort and easy access to qualified opinions on their health are indispensable in our busy world.
- Telehealth also offers safety from exposure to pathogens when asymptomatic patients are in the vicinity
- Driving through the traffic is a deal-breaker for most people who are already busy. They appreciate the ease of business in all the functions that affect their life. Whether it is their banking, academics, ordering groceries and utilities, or booking tickets, they prefer an app-based service that their smartphone can support.
- Telehealth can restore healthcare practices in remote areas that lack clinical facilities
- Under-developed countries that face severe shortages of medical care can be reached through telehealth services.
- It is a cost-saving model
Challenges and their fixes to telehealth services
Like every significant change that sets the wheels of transformation rolling has some share of hurdles, telehealth services also have specific barriers that may falter the system. It is essential to detect such limitations and eliminate or steer the course of telehealth services for better efficacy. Let us check a few significant challenges in telehealth services:
- Telehealth has its fair share of ethical, legal, and regulatory challenges that need to be checked and fixed
- The uniformity of compliance procedures for in-person medicine and telehealth services is a big task owing to the nature of the consultation. However, this hurdle can be overcome through proper training and insistence on deep diving with probing questions. A video of the talk can be handy for medical transcribing and reference.
- Though the cost of telehealth consultations is the same as that of a physical one, there is no guarantee of pay equality for telehealth nurses. Nursing communities can advocate for equal pay for equal work irrespective of hybrid, remote, or in-person healthcare.
- Telehealth currently is a free-will service availed by consenting patients. In the future, patients may be arm-twisted to avail of only telehealth services if most hospitals choose to shift their ambulatory patient services to telehealth. This has disastrous effects as a system of service should be flexible. At the same patients who are yet to try the benefits of telehealth services can try a hybrid model. Even in the future, if they don’t like the quality of care they receive through telehealth, they should have the option to return to the hospital as it happens now.
How can telehealth nurses make a difference?
We tend to care more for people we can see in person than those we meet virtually. However, this limitation need not overpower our professional commitments. Telehealth nurses should be mindful that there is a virtual screen between their patients and them. And they may not be able to see what you see on your screen.
This results in a loss in translation or understanding as the nurse and patient are not on the same page. An easy way to overcome this is to share your screen with your patients using digital tools. As a nurse, you can share diagnostic reports with patients and let them know the problem areas.
Fostering a bond with patients is essential for nurses to deliver patient care and communicate with them openly. A telehealth nurse may need to put in the extra effort so that patients are not distracted and can focus on the clinical procedure.
Telehealth nurses can increase access to healthcare in rural and remote areas that don’t have access to a good hospital. They help ease the nursing shortages the healthcare industry has witnessed in the last few years.
Telehealth nurses can competently follow up on patient appointments, and their interactions with patients can reduce no-shows and the wastage of resources. The average wait period for clinical consultation for patients is diminished through telehealth services. Nurses ensure safety and disease prevention and management through patient engagement activities like health education and active communication.
There is a growing section of telehealth nurses working from home and managing a work-life balance. Telehealth nurses working from home must maintain a high-speed internet connection and digital devices to facilitate telehealth services and monitor their patients remotely. As long as the quality of service is born, a new breed of work-from-home nurses will emerge as long as service quality is maintained.