What is Telehealth Nursing

Telehealth nursing is a form of long distance health care that’s been experiencing exponential growth the past two decades.

If you have ever used telecommunications, such as a telephone, or a computer to receive health care services over a long distance from one or a group of nurses then you have benefited from the industry known as telehealth nursing.

Telehealth nursing is also called telenursing, nursing telepractice, and telemedicine by those inside of the field.

Telehealth nursing overlaps with other medical and non-medical applications such as telediagnosis, teleconsultation, and telemonitoring.

Telehealth nursing has proven to be an effective form of modern medical practice despite being so remote due to the fact that the nurses use telephones, web cameras, VOIP, and the internet to deliver medical care.

Telehealth nursing is considered such an effective form of modern health care that it is practiced in 36 countries around the world.

Some of those countries include Australia, Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the Netherlands just to name a few.

The United States and Canada possess the largest participation of Registered Nurses and Advanced Practice Nurses.

During a 2005 International Telenursing survey, 719 nurses completed the survey.

Out of those 719 participants, 489 were from the United States and 74 were from Canada.

Although telehealth nursing has seen the largest growth and utilization in the 19th and 20th centuries, it is not a modern-day invention.

In fact, records dating from as far back as the times of the Roman Empire show a use of telehealth practices.

The elderly and infirm could not travel to temples to seek medical attention.

Instead, they sent representatives with messages outlying their symptoms.

The representative would then return back with a diagnosis and requisite treatment.

There are even records reporting that African tribes would use smoke signals to warn neighboring villages of a disease outbreak.

Although forms of communication and technology were primitive in those times, ancient civilizations still found ways to receive proper medical care over long distances.

Over the centuries, technology and communications have flourished in fantastical ways, and with the flourishing technology came the rise of the telehealth field.

The earliest telehealth encounter can be traced back to Alexander Graham Bell in 1876.

Mr. Bell called his assistant, Mr. Watson, for help after he spilled acid on himself.

Telegraphs were used during the Civil War to help assist in the medical care of injured soldiers and to deliver mortality lists.

Telehealth nursing really began to proliferate mainstream healthcare in the 2000s when computer technology and the Internet began to mainstream into every home, hospital, office, and school.

The obvious benefits of telehealth nursing cannot be overstated.

As discussed previously, ancient civilizations recognized the advantages of long distance communications for reporting and receiving medical treatment.

The same holds true for our modern society.

People who are unable to travel long distances to receive medical care can simply remain in their home, pick up a phone, call up a nurse, and get a diagnosis in a matter of minutes.

This not only helps those unable to travel due to age or illness, it helps those who have travel too far to seek non-emergency medical care.

Although we are a modern society of concrete roads, wires, and routers, there are still many people living in rural parts of every continent where a trip to the nearest physician can take hours.

The mainstream implementation of telehealth nursing has also helped to solve the problem of an increasing number of nurse shortages globally.

Surprisingly, telehealth nursing services have shown a greater degree of job satisfaction among its telenurses than in other health care fields.

While telehealth services are centuries-old practices, the laws and regulations of modern society have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to all of the possible legal situations and regulatory nuances of such a dynamic and fast-growing field.

Though there is room for improvement, telehealth nursing is not without its vast and strict regulations.

Nurses employed in the telehealth nursing field do not always need a certification, but certain states will require a nurse to obtain the proper licensure in order to practice.

Telehealth nurses must possess a registered nurse license that complies with all state and federal regulations.

First and foremost, any nurse who offers telehealth care must maintain patient confidentiality adhere to all applicable HIPAA requirements.

Furthermore, telehealth nurses must meet the standards of care.

In addition, all telehealth nurses must practice within the American Nurses Association standards for quality, safety, and competency.

You will find that in many countries, the practice of telehealth nursing is forbidden across states and countries.

Regulations require that the attending nurse have a license in both their own state or country and in the state or country of the patient whom they are treating.

The interstate and intercountry nature of practicing telehealth nursing make legal issues such as negligence and malpractice difficult to address and cases will sometimes go unresolved.

A major benefit of telehealth nursing is the expedited access to medical care for those who are unable to travel or live long distances from the nearest medical center.

Being able to communicate with a nurse via telephone, VOIP, or web camera allows the patient to save time and money but also drives down the costs of healthcare for state programs and insurance companies alike by keeping patients out of the hospital for non-emergency issues.

Telehealth nursing has also allowed more comprehensive home care and has allowed remote triage, remote monitoring, and remote patient management.

Telehealth nursing has also presented its own unique set of challenges.

The most important challenge is ensuring patient confidentiality.

In a virtual world where every device is connected to the Internet, it’s growing increasingly simple for a malicious individual to hack into a phone call or a video chat.

This can compromise patient confidentiality.

In addition to this challenge, the aforementioned quagmire of legal issues of neglect and malpractice claims still remains.

While strides are being made in addressing the lack of legal recourse in such matters, a great deal of work still lies ahead.

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