Telehealth nursing has had a massive impact on healthcare in recent years and especially since the 2020 pandemic. Now more than ever, patients opt for video appointments instead of in-office visits, and healthcare providers have had to adjust to this new world.
With the uptick in technology-focused care, nursing jobs have changed, and it’s likely only the beginning. This article will look at what telehealth nursing means, how it’s impacted healthcare, and what that means for nursing jobs going forward.
What Is Telehealth Nursing?
Telehealth nursing means providing virtual and remote nursing care to patients using technology. According to the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN), telehealth technology can include “mobile smartphones, kiosks, and web-based and digital platforms.”
Old-school telehealth services were about appointments conducted by phone. Today, providers can connect with patients over phone calls, email, or video platforms through various programs. The exact setting depends on what the hospital provides and each patient needs.
How Does Telehealth Nursing Affect Healthcare Jobs?
The percentage of people scheduling telehealth appointments has skyrocketed since 2019. Whether one sees this as a positive or not, there’s not doubt that moving from in-person to virtual follow-ups is going to change how nurses do their jobs.
Here’s how nursing jobs — and healthcare jobs in general — have been affected by telehealth nursing.
1. Patient Monitoring Goes Remote
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is the use of digital technology to gather medical data while monitoring and providing direct patient care remotely. Telehealth services also this type of care without the patient and provider having to be in the same place.
RPM can help:
- Decrease the number of hospital re-admissions
- Improve quality of life for patients
- Provide safer and easier help to chronically ill patients
- Reduce the length of hospital stays
RPM allows nurses to provide care virtually, impacting how they record data, schedule follow-ups, give care instructions, and so much more.
2. Increased Accessibility to Patients
Telehealth can also make nurses more available to patients. Instead of scheduling an in-person appointment, patients can reach out from the comfort of home. Nurses might be able to provide adequate care to more people and in more meaningful ways.
3. Shorter Appointments
Telehealth consultations tend to take 20% less time than in-person visits, saving nurses more time in between appointments. They don’t have to worry about commute times, physically taking vitals, and other steps that time extra time. Nurses might be able to provide quality care in shorter spurts of time.
4. Potential Solutions for the Nursing Shortage
Nursing shortages hit healthcare like a ton of bricks during COVID-19, causing severe nurse burnout. Telehealth nursing might help relieve some of the issues related to both shortages and burnout.
Since nurses spend less time charting and moving between patients with telehealth appointments, they can engage in more one-on-one interactions with patients despite shorter overall appointment times. Nurses and other healthcare providers are spending less time on routine administrative tasks and more time assisting those they entered this field to help.
5. There are Unique Challenges, Too
It’s not all rainbows, of course. Telehealth services have come with limitations, and nurses should be aware of the growing pains. When the pandemic hit, healthcare providers were forced to start using telehealth platforms without comprehensive training. Both nurses and patients have had to adjust to the new technology.
Also, many hospitals quickly invested in telehealth technology without much prior research, and they might now be left with equipment that doesn’t best suit their patient types or practice. This can present challenges as everyone adapts.
Telehealth nursing is the new normal in many ways. Healthcare organizations should keep these changes in mind when updating internal processes and recruiting and hiring nurses amidst the emergence of telehealth.