As technology grows, the role and importance of telehealth grows along with it. Telehealth can improve patient satisfaction and provide access to specialized care, all while providing new career paths for nurses.
According to The Role of Telehealth in an Evolving Health Care Environment, a 2012 report from the Institute of Medicine for the National Academies, shows that telehealth can dramatically improve patient care. The report found that telehealth programs improve the quality of care, while reducing costs and driving volume. This can be especially important for rural hospitals, overcrowded hospitals or hospitals with limited access to resources, as they struggle to meet patient needs.
Though the patient benefits of telehealth are pretty clear, telehealth can help caregivers as well, providing nurses with new opportunities to learn and educate. Working in telehealth is not just answering phone calls; nurses connect with patients using a variety of technologies (including computer and mobile), and many get the chance to work with patients on an ongoing basis. Nurses also learn new specialties and get the chance to pursue their clinical interests.
In addition to the new learning opportunities, telehealth can also offer new ways to lead. Goldie Taylor, RN, BSN made the transition from bedside nurse to a telehealth nurse educator position. The change allowed her to pursue her passion for teaching, educating patients while being an advocate with their healthcare team. Additionally, telehealth has real opportunities to move into leadership and managerial roles; as Taylor writes: “These roles require nurses to lead programs and team members, giving nurses the chance to stretch their skills and take on new management challenges. While one-to-one interactions with patients may be scaled back, nurse leaders and managers are critical to overseeing processes and initiatives that positively affect patient lives.” So while you may not be working face-to-face with patients or staff, telehealth nurse leadership can provide many of the same experiences and opportunities as working at the hospital.
To read more about Goldie Taylor’s experience with telehealth, click here.