Telehealth is no longer a thing of the future. Already, medical professionals are using the technology at their disposal to keep better track of patient’s biometric data, to connect with patients regardless of travel or distance constraints, and more. This begs the question – are nurses ready for telehealth?
One of the most important things to note is that telehealth has gone far beyond using the telephone to connect quickly and easily with patients. An increasing number of HIPAA certified and encrypted options for telemedicine have become an important practice for many nurses that are beginning to adopt these tools into their businesses. These technological advances may prove critical for the health and wellbeing of patients in the future. They can help to improve patient compliance and help identify potential problems and complications, increasing the ability of nurses to connect with their patients.
Many things must be taken into consideration when it comes to assessing a nurse’s readiness to use telehealth in a practice. From understanding the Nurse Licensing Compact regulations, including HIPAA, how technology is allowed to assist the nurse with remote patient monitoring, and understanding the applications of telecommunications in medicine. There are a lot of factors to think about but unfortunately there are limited resources for nurses. One of the first places to start learning about Telehealth Nursing is the American Telemedicine Association – which has supported the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards and the National Council of the State Boards of Nursing
Now is a good time for any nurse already using telehealth or who is planning to increase her usage of telehealth practices to go over HIPAA guidelines. This knowledge will assist to understand the special considerations that must be used when implementing telehealth practices. Patient privacy always remains an important factor, and one of the few downsides of new advents in technology is that it opens up more avenues for potential privacy leaks regarding patient information. It is important for all nurses using telehealth practices to understand what must be done to protect patient information as necessary.
Another important thing to consider is whether or not a nurse has the proper technology at her disposal to engage with patients. It seems that new technology comes out all the time, and while new technology has improved the efficacy of telehealth practices, not having the right tools at her disposal can prove problematic for some nurses. Medical teams should be aware of modern trends in technology, what their patients are using, and what they should be using to connect best with patients.
When it comes to the adoption of new technologies into medical practices on the business side of things, it’s important to consider and be aware of the “Blockbuster” effect. By now, everybody is conscious of the cautionary tale of the big video-business empire. This empire’s downfall can be linked to its failure to adapt to and adopt new technological practices into its business plan. Small nursing businesses stand to lose out by failing to take compliant technologies into their practices. To ensure they continue thriving – or lose out to those hospitals, community centers, and retail operations that are receiving grants for these telehealth technologies; small businesses and nurse practitioners must incorporate new practices into their business plan.
Finally, it is important to note that nurses should be prepared to improve their abilities with using telehealth practices over time. Every patient (and every demographic) uses technology differently, and for many nurses, understanding the best application for telehealth technology can be a process of trial and error until they come across the right formula.
So, are nurses ready for telehealth? In most cases, the answer is a resounding yes, and the number of nurses who are already implementing telehealth practices into their care is increasing exponentially over time. Being ready, willing, and able to connect with patients in this manner is an important first step to improving the quality of their care.