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Nurses Are Critical to Telehealth

Advances in technology are everywhere, and the healthcare field is no different. Advances in telehealth are enabling nurses and other providers to offer patients an increasing number of distance services that mirror traditional, in-person care. It is now possible to diagnose, educate and monitor patients in their homes or other remote locations by using different types of technology.

What Is Telehealth Nursing?

The International Nurses Association defines telehealth nursing as “the use of telehealth/telemedicine technology to deliver nursing care and conduct nursing practice remotely.” Instead of caring for a patient at a hospital or other healthcare facility, the nurse uses technology to provide care, interaction and advocacy.

Examples of services nurses can provide include monitoring a patient’s blood glucose levels, oxygen levels, weight or blood pressure. Nurses also have the capability to educate patients and address issues before more serious problems occur.

Nurses use telemedicine to care for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and congestive heart failure. Telehealth nursing is a great way to provide preventive care.

According to the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP), the following are some of the services that telehealth offers:

  • Counseling.
  • Education.
  • Home Health.
  • Disaster Management.
  • Physical therapy.

The Different Types of Telehealth Technologies

Telehealth, sometimes called “telemedicine,” is an umbrella term used to describe a number of technologies and techniques used to deliver health services, according to the CCHP.

Mobile health (mHealth). This form of telehealth utilizes smart phones, computers and tablets. For example, a practitioner may send a text message that promotes a healthy behavior activity, or the CDC may send an alert to a wide audience about a disease outbreak.

Live video. With this form of technology, a nurse uses audiovisual telecommunications to offer care remotely instead of in person. It is especially beneficial for times when in-person visits are not possible.

Remote patient monitoring. With RPM, a nurse can track healthcare data after a patient has been released from the hospital, which helps reduce re-admission rates. Electronic communication technologies collect data from the individual, then transmit it to the practitioner in another location.

Store-and-forward. A healthcare provider uses a secure electronic communications system to send recorded health history, including X-rays, photos and digital images to another provider who then uses the data to evaluate a case.

How Telehealth Helps Certain Populations

The main attraction of telehealth is the ability to provide care remotely, saving patients trips to the provider’s office.

According to the International Nurses Association (INA) blog, telehealth technology is used in a variety of locations:

  • Homes.
  • Healthcare clinics.
  • Doctors’ offices.
  • Prisons.
  • Hospitals.
  • Call centers.
  • Mobile units.

Elderly, home-bound or immobile patients who cannot access a healthcare facility can especially benefit from this technology.

What Telehealth Means for Nurses

Telehealth has moved into the mainstream, according to the American Hospital Association (AHA). The association reports that 52 percent of hospitals implemented telehealth technology in 2013, and that another 10 percent were starting to implement the method. In addition, consumer interest and confidence in telehealth is growing, which signals a greater demand for nurses who are able to work with this technology.

Nurses who use telehealth technology must have their registered nurse (RN) license and may need additional licenses for practice across state lines.

Telehealth is a growing field — one that offers patients convenient, quality healthcare. Nurses can use the technology to monitor, evaluate, educate and advise patients, many of whom may not have access to a hospital or other healthcare facility.

Learn about the University of Texas of the Permian Basin online RN to BSN program.


International Nurses Association: Beyond the Bedside: The Role of Telehealth Nursing

Center for Connected Health Policy: What Is Telehealth?

American Hospital Association: The Promise of Telehealth for Hospitals, Health Systems and Their Communities

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