Beyond the Bedside: The Role of Telehealth Nursing

Nursing is a very hands-on job, there’s no denying. But with advancements in technology in recent years, it’s impossible not to extend nursing practice into the world of remote communication. In fact, it’s fairly likely that you’ve already had a hand in telehealth nursing, even if that means you’ve just made a simple phone call to a patient. But the growth in technology has increased the availability of telemedicine nationwide and its effects are expanding.

While telehealth nursing is not currently considered a unique nursing specialty, it does definitely require certain skills and knowledge. Despite this, almost any nurse can participate effectively in the practice. If you’re new to the world of telemedicine, keep reading for more information about the growing field.

What is Telehealth?

Essentially, telehealth nursing is the practice of nursing via the use of technological assistance. Nurses are able to deliver care remotely without any disruptions to a patient’s treatment. Telehealth utilizes technology like cell phones, the Internet, and web cameras. These, along with relevant software, allow nurses to provide quality care despite long distances.

What Types of Telehealth are There?

Certainly, not all health concerns can be addressed and treated remotely, right? This is true, but telehealth is not far behind in the world of medical needs. There are several categories of telehealth nursing that are available for patients.

  • This type of telemedicine is performed live and face-to-face. Nurses converse directly with patients or clients via video or voice call on an app of their choosing. This two-way communication is best for urgent needs where immediate and personal advice or assistance is needed.
  • This kind of remote healthcare is done as a one-way type of communication from nurse to patient. It can include sending of health records, X-rays, imaging, or other patient information through online technology. This is most often used to relay information to the patient without having to set up an appointment simply to get the data.
  • Remote Monitoring. While most of us think of communication when we talk about telehealth nursing, it’s important to remember that telemedicine also includes the monitoring of patients. This can be done remotely by collecting the data from the patient and then sending it to a distant location where nurses, doctors, and other professionals can monitor their progress. This is helpful for making sure that there are always eyes on the patient’s information and that they won’t be neglected if facilities are overcrowded or understaffed.
  • Mobile Healthcare. There is a multitude of apps available for providers and patients alike. They vary in functionality, so it’s important to find the right one for your needs. Some apps allow direct communication between nurses and patients, others simply provide the patient’s health records and data to them for their own benefit. Still other apps are directly linked to an insurance company and can be helpful in keeping track of claims and bills.

Where Does Telehealth Happen?

Because of its very nature, telehealth nursing can be practiced almost anywhere. The reliance on technology means that location isn’t as important for delivering quality care. However, most telehealth nursing is practiced in patient’s homes, in clinics and hospitals, and in prisons.

A growing trend is for telehealth to be practiced in call centers designed specifically for healthcare. Most call centers are staffed by selected case managers that will help handle triage and educate patients on their personal health issues. This type of assistance to patients has been shown to help people make positive changes in behavior and attitude that had been hindering their health progress. These case managers also offer counseling and advice to other healthcare workers.

Final Thoughts

As technology advances, the world must follow. The field of nursing and healthcare is no different. As telehealth nursing and other remote healthcare services become more readily available to both providers and patients, we can expect to see people more willing and able to take care of their health and stay healthier for longer.