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How to Prepare Nurses for Telehealth Roles?

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Telehealth is a new-age solution that facilitates connection with remote healthcare services. It uses digital tools, apps, and technology to bridge the gap between a patient’s and a healthcare provider’s physical location. Even if a regular ambulatory patient is travelling, he calls his doctor or nurse practitioner on a telehealth platform. 

The technology used in remote health monitoring that is part of telehealth is inclusive and not limited to computers, mobile devices, the internet, and medical apps. It can be the technology used by a patient, a doctor, a nurse, or other paramedical personnel. 

Benefits of telehealth

  • Bridges the gap between a remote patient and a doctor
  • Access to the health information of patients is feasible through document-sharing apps
  • Communities that are far-off and don’t have access to a hospital or a clinic, can consult healthcare practitioners over video call
  • Creates value for paying patients and enabling healthcare facility
  • Multiple doctors and nurses can join virtual meeting rooms from different locations to discuss a patient’s treatment plan
  • In the case of quarantined patients, social distancing can be maintained, and yet doctor’s appointments are not missed.

Futuristic nurses

Nurses preparing for their program can opt to be telehealth nurses just the way they learn nursing online these days. When technology can be used to prepare for their studies, it very well can be used in executing their duties and improve the patient-care enormously by being there for them, despite the distance. The new-age nurses will be using technology often to provide remote health monitoring services for the patients. The need for nurses to adapt to the technological transformations that help in enhancing patient care has heightened since the pandemic. 

To contain the spread of the virus, Covid and the pandemic protocols mandated the need for social distancing between people. Healthcare care facilities the world over were stressed with the number of increasing patients affected with the virus and providing qualified opinions to other patients became a difficult task. To tide over these problems, nurses and other health practitioners started using telehealth platforms. 

Is telehealth a sidearm? 

In the last few years, telehealth moved on from being a just facilitator platform to an important pillar of the healthcare industry. From answering queries of patients seeking random advice based on their ailment’s symptoms to a full-blown review and consultations of diagnosis reports, telehealth has covered considerable ground. Now, telehealth is a feature that the healthcare industry will not ignore and look to develop further by leveraging the latest technology. 

Are nurses ready for telehealth?

Nursing is a profession that has to adapt to any procedural or technological process change on a real-time basis. Often nurses find themselves trying to keep up with the updates and this can be very overwhelming if they are not tech-savvy. 

Nursing students can learn the basic computer handling skills that are required for telehealth by either learning on the job or taking an add-on course credit in computer basics. Virtual meeting rooms like Zoom can help nurses connect with patience and both participants can share their computer screens to read and understand the reports. 

Most AI-driven medical apps can help nurses guide their patients and family members in taking care of simple procedures at home. When a patient can perform simple first aid at home, the footfall of patients decreases but the quality of the patient care increases.

 While most new nurses may find using AI and ML-based programs easy to use, the older nurses may have an overwhelming experience trying to get used to technology. It is recommended to upskill and learn the new methods and healthcare administration should look at training the nurses under continuous education requirements to handle telehealth services. 

Opportunities for telehealth nurses

The healthcare industry is investing in telehealth services to provide high-quality patient care across under-serviced regions. Providing new state-of-the-art healthcare facilities in remote and rural countryside is a daunting effort. Nevertheless, telehealth nurses and nurse practitioners can see common problems of most remote patients through video consultations. 

The cost of building a hospital everywhere with the best in-house patient care facilities is significant. However, telehealth services can offer remote patient monitoring, review of test reports, and online consultations and thus reduce the cost burden on the health care system. 

Most clinicians may not prefer working in remote, inaccessible areas with fewer facilities and infrastructure. But technology and telehealth are proving to be a boon to overcoming these challenges and are easing access to health care. 

Preparing nurses to handle telehealth 

Telehealth nurses are no different in their qualifications and competence than regular registered nurses or nurse practitioners. The difference that sets them apart is their competence in handling technological upgrades in their field of work. 

These are some regular jobs that a telehealth nurse will do:- 

  • Schedule appointments for patients with doctors or specialists through a template mode or online chat service
  • Send virtual consultation link to the patient’s instant messaging service
  • Over video call, assist patients through simulations and medical mannequins 
  • Assisting the healthcare industry in reducing patient overload
  • Helping patients manage their health for minor and manageable issues. 
  • Consulting with experts as per the requirement to handle a patient’s treatment plan

Takeaway: scalability of telehealth

Technology can change the process of how we have been doing things in every aspect, including how patient care and healthcare facilities are accessed. Artificial intelligence is aiding in creating app-based solutions for patients that help analyze symptoms 24/7 and suggest clinical solutions. 

Suppose a patient suffers from lesions on the skin, he can take a picture and upload it on a healthcare app. The picture helps in preliminary diagnosis and sends patient data to all the network hospitals in the vicinity. A nurse or clinician is connected within a few minutes and the patient is provided with medical solutions at disposal. 

Technology has the potential to scale the quality of healthcare provided to patients on a real-time basis in critical life-saving procedures. The future healthcare industry will be highly dependent on efficient process turnarounds offered by telehealth services for improving patient care.

David Radar did his degree in psychology at the University of Kansas. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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