The healthcare industry is rapidly transitioning into a fully digital model, which includes telehealth or telemedicine. However, its growing demand and fast-paced nature render it difficult for traditional healthcare providers to comprehend the advancements as fully as needed. Nurses can all too easily feel coerced into offering services when they are unprepared to handle complexities that can easily arise. The industry appears to readily expect nurses and telehealth to be a natural fit, when in many cases, nurses need more specialized training and supervised experience. In this article, we will delve deeper into a more manageable relationship between nurses and telehealth.
What Role Does Telehealth Play in Nursing?
Telehealth technology is all about delivering the best care in an accessible manner. Consequently, nursing is closely related to the delivery of patient care. That means these healthcare professionals can have a lasting influence on telemedicine advancements if there is a convergence between this technology and nursing.
With it, nurses can offer improved continuity of care, help more patients, and provide better access to healthcare. Telemedicine might reduce the burden of a nurse’s administrative duties, like gathering patient information and verifying insurance coverage. Moreover, this technology gives nurses flexibility, allows them to explore other departments, and builds better patient relationships.
Incorporating telemedicine will allow nurses to offer better and faster care. It also significantly brings down the cost of healthcare. For instance, telehealth saves travel costs and reduces readmissions for routine checkups.
The intricacies of telemedicine allow them to get real-time updates about their patients’ vitals, offer follow–up consultations, and more. Some industry leaders also believe this technology can reduce the national nursing shortage.
However, minimal training or awareness about telemedicine reduces the chances of achieving these benefits among nurses and patients.
Limitations of Nurses and Telehealth
Reports state that telehealth has received overwhelming acceptance, but not without unavoidable problems. The limitations occur due to a lack of training and implementation of this technology among nurses.
Many healthcare facilities adopted this technology because it was ‘trendy.’ Approximately 5,000 American hospitals have incorporated telehealth technology without proper planning or awareness. Hence, these healthcare professionals were unaware of how to use these technologies.
These nurses were not prepared to address sensitive healthcare issues through telemedicine. For instance, they did not know how to handle a patient’s discomfort about online privacy. Other than that, telehealth nursing comes with limitations like:
- Lack of technical knowledge and software know-how
- Issues with HIPAA-compliant licensing and patient record privacy
- Unavailability of Internet of Things (IoT) devices compatible with telehealth
- Increased hours of care and pressure to meet the quota to gain incentives
- Nurses must get licenses in multiple states to offer nationwide services
The healthcare industry needs to be aware of these challenges to rethink ways to implement telemedicine in nursing.
The Importance of Telehealth Training
Change should start at the educational level. For instance, nurses should get tech training as part of their online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) courses. Online schooling for nursing can focus on basic training about telehealth services and how to operate them.
Universities can create online training modules to cover the technical skills required to succeed as a telehealth nurse. Online courses already teach nurses through video consultation, making it easy to incorporate telemedicine operations. Hence, these professionals can access leading-edge degree programs with proper telehealth lecture training, clinical observation, and more.
According to the University of Indianapolis, online programs can offer top-tier education and inculcate a culture of service and support in these learners. These courses can help them understand camera placement and how to establish an online rapport with patients. It will teach them proficiency in cybersecurity as well.
Incorporating telehealth into online nursing education will also open up new avenues. This way, nurses can implement telemedicine development in their workplace. They can directly contact their patients and offer remote care. Moreover, it will also help enhance collaboration between them and other healthcare professionals.
But how can hospitals incorporate telehealth training for their existing workforce? Registered nurses (RNs) can benefit from multiple seminars and test runs. Hence, hospitals can host training sessions about the software they try to incorporate. These sessions will help improve the relationship between nurses and telehealth to ease administrative burdens.
Nurses and Telehealth: The Bottom Line
Nurses can achieve many benefits if they start offering telemedicine services. Examples include remote work, flexibility, better job opportunities, decreased infection risks, etc. However, NursingProcess.org suggests that the disadvantages of telehealth nursing might overshadow the advantages.
The biggest issue is the nurse’s lack of training and experience with telehealth technology. They also need to make critical decisions based on what the patient describes over video calls instead of a proper physical diagnosis. Superficially trained nurses might not be technologically savvy, resulting in inconvenience while working with new software.
To counter these issues, the healthcare industry and nurse training institutes must focus on telemedicine training competencies and methods. Only then can nurses and telehealth be relied upon to offer services that follow best practices.
Sponsored Guest Post Author Bio
Ishani Dhar Chowdhury
Ishani holds a degree in English literature and started her writing career in 2021, climbing the corporate ladder to become a content manager. For almost a year, she balanced writing and managing a team of 10+ writers. Now, she specializes in writing for healthcare.