Telehealth is changing the modern healthcare system. Already, 29 states and the District of Columbia mandate that health plans cover telehealth services, and 42 states have legislation addressing telehealth.* If you’re a nurse or are looking to start a nursing career, there’s a good chance your future will involve one or more aspects of telehealth.
What Is Telehealth?
The Center for Connected Health Policy defines telehealth as “a broad variety of technologies and tactics to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services. Telehealth is not a specific service, but a collection of means to enhance care and education delivery.”† Sometimes called telemedicine (or telenursing when performed by nurses), telehealth is often used to provide health services to underserved areas and/or create efficiencies that save costs without compromising quality of care.
How Does Telehealth Work?
Telehealth can be divided into four types of technology-based services.
- Video Conferencing: Utilizing internet technology, video conferencing allows healthcare providers, such as nurse practitioners, to speak “face-to-face” with patients. Video conferencing is best used for consulting, conducting mental health evaluations, and diagnosing basic ailments.
- Digital Transmission: Internet technology also allows healthcare providers to read scans, watch pre-recorded videos of patients, and review charts from just about anywhere.
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM): RPM is any technology that’s designed to monitor a patient’s medical issues, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, heartrate, etc. It can help healthcare providers track patient health data without the need for numerous appointments.
- Mobile Health: Smartphones and tablet technology allow patients to use apps that provide health information and track health choices, such as calorie intake and exercise.
What Are the Advantages to Telehealth?
- It’s Convenient: With telehealth, healthcare providers can move between patients faster and patients can take care of appointments from home.
- It Can Save Money: By reducing the need for travel, office staff, and office space, telehealth creates cost-saving efficiencies.
- It Can Expand Access: For those who are homebound or live in underserved areas, telehealth provides much needed access to healthcare providers.
- It Can Increase Patient Engagement: By making healthcare and health information easier to obtain, telehealth makes patients more likely to work to improve lifestyle choices and comply with treatment guidelines.
What Are the Disadvantages to Telehealth?
- There Can Be Technology Barriers: Telehealth requires patients to have access to appropriate technology, such as a laptop with video conferencing capability. Those who can’t get a hold of the appropriate technology can’t benefit from telehealth.
- There Can Be Reduced Continuity of Care: Patients using telehealth may connect with different providers each time they use a telehealth service. They may also come to rely on apps rather than in-person exams. This disassociation between patient and provider can increase the likelihood that medical issues go unrecognized and/or untreated.
- There Can Be Insurance Issues: Telehealth is still so new that rates, payments, and patient reimbursements remain in flux. This can complicate matters for both providers and patients.
- It’s Not Good for Every Situation: While telehealth can help a healthcare provider assess patient needs, many health services (from surgery to physical examination) still require a patient to see a provider in-person.
How Can You Learn More About Modern Healthcare Practices?
Technology is changing healthcare quickly. If you’re a nurse—or are thinking about becoming a nurse—you want to make sure you have the skills and knowledge necessary to keep up with the healthcare field. How can you achieve this? One great way is to earn a Master of Science Nursing (MSN) degree.
A master’s in nursing can help you gain advanced nursing skills, which can prepare you for the best nursing careers and put you in position to earn the highest nursing salaries. After all, most APRNs (such as nurse practitioners) hold a master’s of science in nursing. And, thanks to online education, enrolling in nursing school and completing an MSN program is more convenient than ever before.
In fact, online learning has become so popular among working nurses that the master of the MSN is Walden University, whose master’s in nursing online program is number one in MSN graduates in the U.S.‡ As a Walden student, you can choose from eight different MSN nursing specializations, learn from a 100% doctorally prepared teaching faculty, and complete your coursework from home. Plus, when you enroll in Walden’s online MSN program, you can take your classes on a schedule that lets you attend to your schooling at whatever time of day works best for you, providing you the flexibility you need to continue working full time.
As a top-level online nursing school, Walden can give you the convenience you need to complete a master’s in nursing program, preparing you for the future of healthcare.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Science in Nursing degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
*M. Wood, Telemedicine to Attract 7M Patient Users by 2018 — 12 Statistics on the Thriving Market, Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review, on the internet at www.beckershospitalreview.com/healthcare-information-technology/telemedicine-to-attract-7m-patient-users-by-2018-12-statistics-on-the-thriving-market.html.
†Center for Connected Health Policy, What Is Telehealth?, Public Health Institute, on the internet at www.cchpca.org/what-is-telehealth.
‡Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) IPEDS database. Retrieved July 2017, using CIP code 51.3801 (Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse). Includes 2016 preliminary data.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.