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Instant messages, email, video conferences – these and other forms of technology now allow patients to access their health care providers via a new field known as telehealth, created by the demand for greater access and convenience in health care, according to Hospitals & Health Networks.
What is Telenursing?
Nurses are now able to interact with patients remotely, thanks to advances in technology, thus the terms “telenursing” or “telehealth nursing.” According to the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), this is defined as “the use of telehealth/telemedicine technology to deliver nursing care and conduct nursing practice.”
Telenursing is not a specialty area of nursing. In nearly all practice settings, a nurse is able to provide some care at a distance. Due to the rapid rise and demand of telenursing, experienced nurses as well as new graduates may expect growing career opportunities in this field.
Growth and Benefits
Some form of telemedicine is now in use at more than half of all hospitals in the United States, according to the ATA. A survey demonstrates the development or implementation of a telemedicine program among 90% of health care executives.
Other signs reveal the growth of telenursing and telemedicine. State lawmakers now support legislation for telemedicine-related reimbursements; both private and public insurers are accepting these changes. The ATA reports that more than 200 academic medical centers across the United States offer video-based consults across the globe.
Telemedicine offers primary benefits, including the following:
– Cost Savings. According to the American Hospital Association, a cardiac telemonitoring program resulted in eleven percent cost savings, with a return on investment of $3.30 in cost savings for every dollar used for program implementation. Global professional services company, Towers Watson, states that U.S. employers could save an estimated six billion dollars by offering telemedicine.
– Flexibility. Americans residing in rural areas comprise about twenty percent of our population without ready access to primary or specialty care. Greater than forty percent of hospitals surveyed have opted to invest in telemedicine tools for the purpose of filling the gaps to these remote communities. Software Advice, a company that compares electronic health records, conducted a survey of patients. They found that twenty-one percent of their consumers most value telemedicine for its ability to deliver care without long travels.
– Quality Care. The aforementioned cardiac telemonitoring program saw a drop in patient readmissions by forty-four percent over a thirty-day period, and thirty-eight percent over ninety days, when compared to patients not enrolled in the program. A patient-care study of eight thousand outcomes showed no difference in the virtual appointment vs. an in-office visit. In a Humana Cares remote health management and monitoring program for congestive heart failure patients, at least ninety percent of patients report feeling more connected to their nurse, found ease of use with the virtual care suite and were willing to recommend the program to friends.
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For those patients who have not experienced a telemedicine visit, seventy-five percent showed an interest in using one rather than an in-person office visit, says the Software Advice survey. Sixty-seven percent of those patients who have used telemedicine state that it “somewhat” or “significantly increases” their satisfaction in the care received.
Careers in Telenursing
“Telehealth nursing is practiced in the home, health care clinic, doctor’s office, prisons, hospitals, telehealth nursing call centers and mobile units,” the ATA says. “Telephone triage, remote monitoring and home care are the fastest growing applications.”
The popularity of telehealth has created new telenursing areas of practice:
– Telemental health
– Forensic telenursing
Telehealth is transforming health care, even in the ICU. “Although the role of the bedside care-giver can never be replaced or diminished, it can certainly be augmented, enhanced, and facilitated,” according to Critical Care Nurse. “The key to the long-term success is the continued consistent collaboration between the bedside team and the tele-ICU nurses, which can transform how critical care nursing is practiced.”
The creation of the teleICU has improved outcomes for critical patients by shortening hospital and ICU stays, reducing ICU mortality, increasing compliance rates with evidenced-based best practices, decreasing patient care costs and improving cardiopulmonary arrest patient outcomes. By simply clicking a mouse, a nurse can access medical records, laboratory results and diagnostic images, as well as standard monitoring including hemodynamic values and electrocardiography.
A teleICU nurse will shoulder important responsibilities, such as regular rounds via camera and assessing all patients, which may include equipment checks for safety, assessing the patient’s physical well-being and appearance, verbally verifying infusions and speaking with the staff, patient, and patient’s family. The teleICU nurse is a vital resource for the bedside nurse, able to quickly retrieve data and information, and compiling detailed, complete admission notes should the patient arrive in the unit.
“As the US healthcare environment continues to evolve due to changes in reimbursement, legal issues, and shrinking healthcare resources, the expanding role of telehealth nurses will continue to evolve,” says the ATA. “Leadership and collaboration among international nurses is needed to outline the uses of ehealth/telehealth technologies to provide nursing care in an interdisciplinary manner to patients, regardless of staffing, time, or geographic boundaries.”
Those pursuing telenursing opportunities should have a strong educational background. More hospitals across the country already require nurses to hold a BSN degree, indicating educational standards are on the rise. Aurora University’s online RN to BSN programs prepare graduates with the knowledge and skills required to pursue advanced career opportunities. The program boasts an online learning environment, which allows students a convenient and flexible schedule to complete their degree while maintaining a work/life balance.
Interested in Telenursing? Aurora University provides a strong foundation in this specialty. Aurora’s RN to BSN degree Completion Program prepares students for management-level positions and other nursing specialties. The program offers a convenient and flexible online learning environment, accommodating the personal and work schedules of students. For more information on telenursing, check out Transforming Health Care: The Emergence of Telenursing .
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