Telehealth is not a new phenomenon, it has been around for decades. But advances in technology have meant that it is now more sophisticated and widely used. While the trend was always to see a steady increase in telehealth, the COVID-19 pandemic gave it an unexpected boost, as it allowed medical professionals to treat patients remotely and only risk meeting in person when necessary. Telehealth has implications for all areas of medicine, but nursing practice is one of the areas that is seeing the most significant changes.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth allows medical professionals to treat patients without meeting in person. Consultations can be carried out via phone or video conferencing software on tablets and computers. Today, telehealth can be used at many different stages of treatment. For example, it might be used in an additional assessment to decide the best course of treatment or as a follow-up after treatment has ended. It can also be used in the management of chronic and long-term conditions to monitor the patient between appointments.
New employment opportunities
Telehealth will only become more sophisticated as technology advances, perhaps involving devices that can monitor patients remotely. For those entering the nursing profession, telehealth may be a career path to consider. Allowing nurses to treat more patients, many nurses find telehealth a highly rewarding career. When choosing a nursing course, check the curriculum carefully to make sure it meets your needs. For those students looking for an online nursing program in Indiana, the ASBN at the University of Indianapolis is a good option. With the course including the knowledge of advance technologies, it is ideally placed to help train the nurses of the future.
Connecting with patients
Many nurses find they can build closer relationships with patients if telehealth is used in their care. This is particularly true in rural areas when patients might have to travel large distances to see a medical practitioner. But thanks to telehealth, nurses can regularly meet with patients without the need for travel.
Working from home
Nursing is not usually a profession that can be carried out from home, but already this is changing and remote work may increase further in the future. Telehealth can be managed from anywhere with a strong internet connection, freeing nurses from the need to travel to a hospital or clinic. This will bring greater flexibility to the working practices of nurses.
Changing communication skills
Good communication skills are always important for a nurse, but telehealth will require nurses to hone their skills at using other forms of communication beyond face-to-face conversation. They will need an effective phone manner or be able to manage conversation via video conferencing software. They may also find that some information must be conveyed in written form via emails or messages, requiring nurses to boost their writing skills.
Becoming a telehealth nurse
There are no specific qualifications currently needed to become a telehealth nurse beyond the standard nursing degrees and state licensure. Generally, telehealth providers prefer nurses to hold at least one or two years nursing experience as well as triage experience. Additionally, nurses will need to brush up on their technical skills to be able to effectively treat patients remotely.