Telehealth in Nursing: Is There a Place for Technology?

Telehealth in nursing offers innovative solutions to improve patient care and enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery. This technology meets the increasing demand for qualified medical personnel, which will remain high as baby boomers age. According to a Health Workforce Analysis by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the shortage of full-time registered nurses will reach 63,720 full-time registered nurses in 2030, considerably affecting the quality of care.

But what practical applications does nursing telehealth have? What roles can it replace or support?

For those involved in integrating or developing telehealth solutions, it’s essential to understand how these technologies can transform nursing practice and deliver substantial benefits to both healthcare providers and patients.

Find answers in our article on the impact of telehealth on nursing practices and ways to implement nursing telehealth.

What is Telehealth in Nursing?

Telehealth in nursing is the adoption of digital technology to enable nurses to provide healthcare services remotely. It allows them to monitor patients, conduct virtual consultations, and offer support without in-person visits. They can communicate through video, phone calls, and messages or use apps to track health data.

For example, a nurse can use telehealth to monitor a patient with diabetes by having them use a glucose meter that syncs with a mobile app. It allows the nurse to track their blood sugar levels in real-time and adjust the treatment plan as needed. By conducting a virtual consultation with a patient recovering from surgery, nurses can provide pain management advice and ensure they follow post-operative care instructions correctly. Additionally, a nurse can offer support through a telehealth platform to provide dietary guidance to a hypertension patient or send medication reminders through a mobile app to ensure adherence to treatment plans.

How Does Telehealth Impact Nursing Practice

What is a telemedicine nurse? The impact of telehealth on nursing is profound, as it allows nurses to monitor patients, conduct virtual consultations, and provide support without in-person visits. Recent advancements in telehealth nursing apps, such as Teladoc, Amwell, and MyChart, have further enhanced this transformation. These apps offer innovative features like real-time health data tracking, secure video consultations, and personalized health education.

The mentioned ways of integrating technology in nursing practice provide many benefits and use cases. Learn how telehealth solutions can level up nursing practice below.  

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Improved Access to Care

Data from the Rural Health Research Gateway confirms that from 2005 through 2022, 186 rural hospitals either closed completely or converted to facilities that no longer provide inpatient care due to population shifts and resource misallocations. The shortage of medical staff willing to work in rural areas and increasing complexities in patient transportation have led to declining care quality and coverage gaps. 
However, telehealth services, particularly telenursing, offer a promising solution to this healthcare challenge. Telenursing significantly benefits rural hospitals by reducing costs, expanding coverage, and eliminating service delivery delays. While telemedicine care can cost as little as $50, broader integration and support could make telenursing services accessible to patients free of charge in the near future.

Enhanced Chronic Disease Management

Telenursing allows for continuous monitoring and management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. By using digital tools like remote monitoring devices and health apps, nurses can track patients’ health data in real-time, make timely adjustments to treatment plans, and provide ongoing education and support. 

For example, a study on the role of telenursing in the management of type 1 diabetes proved that patients in the intervention group exhibited better glucose control and engaged in more frequent self-monitoring than those receiving routine clinical care. The results of the study suggest that telenursing motivates T1DM patients to manage their disease more effectively.

Increased Efficiency of Treatment

Nurses can conduct virtual visits, consult with colleagues, and access patient records in real time, facilitating quicker decision-making and coordinated care. This efficiency translates into reduced patient wait times, improved workflow for healthcare providers, and enhanced overall operational effectiveness within healthcare organizations.

A feasibility study on telenursing for lung cancer patients has demonstrated that telenursing data transmission considerably facilitates treatment in rural areas. It enhances nurses’ ability to manage emotions and social aspects effectively. It also plays a crucial role in managing post-chemotherapy symptoms, assists with chemotherapy-related toxicity, improves health functional status and quality of life, and potentially reduces the necessity for supportive care.

Cost Savings

Using telehealth can minimize emergency room visits and hospital readmissions, thereby reducing healthcare costs.

Telehealth solutions have proven particularly effective in post-operative care. Patients recovering from surgery can have follow-up appointments via video calls. It allows nurses to assess a patient’s progress in recovery and promptly address any minor complications without hospital visits. Also, remote care enhances patient comfort and reduces hospital readmission rates.

Patients save money on travel and other related expenses, while healthcare providers can optimize resource utilization – it’s a win-win.

More Effective Education and Training

Telehealth enhances nursing education and professional development opportunities by facilitating virtual learning experiences, webinars, and remote mentorship programs. Nurses can access educational courses, participate in virtual conferences, and engage in collaborative learning with peers and experts worldwide.

Patients also benefit from the educational capabilities of telenursing. In a recent study, patients with cancer underwent treatment more successfully when supported with education, counseling, self-care, and self-management strategies through telehealth apps. They received information about cancer and treatment options, as well as guidance on managing chemotherapy side effects like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, and mucositis. Additionally, patients were educated on self-care practices such as dietetics, physical exercise, and sleep management specific to cancer care.

As you can see, telehealth is reshaping nursing practice. The landscape of telenursing has evolved significantly, moving beyond its origins in rural and remote communities to become a widespread and indispensable tool in modern healthcare delivery. Nurses and patients increasingly value telenursing for its convenience, efficiency, communication capabilities, and comfort. 

10 Potential Nursing Roles in Telehealth and Implications for Nurses

Telehealth technologies in nursing offer flexibility of care and expand the scope of healthcare services. These advancements created diverse opportunities for nurses to specialize in various telehealth roles. From managing chronic conditions remotely to facilitating specialist consultations and continuous monitoring, telehealth empowers nurses to deliver high-quality care across different settings. 

Here are some key use cases of telehealth in nursing and implications for nurses, explored by the OJIN’s Preparing Nurses for Roles in Telehealth research.

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1. Discharge Planning and Follow-up

Nurses manage both pre- and post-discharge care for chronically ill and post-operative patients. They ensure patients understand treatment plans before discharge and monitor recovery remotely using telehealth technologies. Such assistance improves patient compliance, reduces readmission rates, and enhances treatment efficiency.

2. Telehealth Management

Nurses in this role manage telehealth activities at their healthcare sites. They develop protocols, assist in technology selection, and oversee the implementation of telehealth programs. 

Their work includes creating scheduling templates, ensuring patient consent, and determining which patient populations can benefit most from telehealth services. Such managers usually work in hospitals, ambulatory care centers, and long-term care facilities​​.

3. Bedside Nursing

In this case, nurses conduct rounds and crucial interactions with isolated patients, particularly those in ICU care. Using tablets and smartphones, they ensure regular check-ins and assessments and facilitate family contact, bridging the gap between patients and their loved ones. Moreover, telehealth at the bedside allows for virtual visits with specialists, ensuring that patients receive specialized care without leaving their rooms. 

4. Telemetry Management

Telemedicine nurses oversee and coordinate the remote monitoring of patients‘ vital signs and health data. They ensure continuous surveillance and real-time analysis of telemetry data from intensive care and telemetry units. This proactive monitoring allows nurses to promptly identify changes in patient conditions, intervene as necessary, and collaborate with healthcare teams to optimize treatment plans. 

5. Nurse Consulting

This role involves arranging virtual consultations between experienced colleagues and providers at a point of care to enable real-time assessment of patient conditions and more informed decision-making. Nurses can access specialized expertise remotely for timely interventions and comprehensive patient care management. This way, telehealth enhances clinical outcomes and supports interdisciplinary teamwork in healthcare settings.

6. Triage Nursing

Triage nurses use telehealth to assess whether a patient needs emergency care or can be managed remotely. They consult patients via phone or video to determine the severity of their symptoms and advise on the next steps. This role is vital in emergency departments and military settings, where quick and accurate initial assessment can save lives​.

Tele-triage effectively reduces overcrowding in emergency departments thanks to more efficient patient processing and reduced wait times. Healthcare organizations can provide rapid care to low-risk patient populations with less severe health conditions, ensuring timely attention without unnecessary delays. Moreover, tele-triage helps to decrease the incidence of patients leaving the emergency department without treatment.

7. Remote Patient Monitoring

Nurses can track patients’ health data remotely using wearable devices and home monitoring equipment. They assess biometric data such as blood glucose levels and blood pressure, conduct virtual visits, and manage care algorithms to predict patient needs. 

Remote patient monitoring helps ensure continuous and proactive patient care in specialty practices, hospice care, and home health services. Given these benefits, it’s not surprising that the adoption of remote monitoring devices among physicians increased from 12% in 2016 to 30% in 2022.

8. Health Coaching

Telehealth software allows nurses to educate and coach patients remotely. They can provide synchronous and asynchronous education on medication management, review test results, and coach patients on lifestyle and behavioral changes. 

It helps patients understand their conditions and manage their health more effectively​. Studies have shown that health coaching typically results in decreased mental distress among patients. Patients often report reduced pain and fatigue levels as further benefits.

This role is crucial in ambulatory care facilities, specialty clinics, and skilled nursing facilities. 

9. Care Coordination

Care coordinators use telehealth to connect patients with an interprofessional team, facilitating comprehensive care planning and management. They arrange virtual visits and ensure smooth transitions between different levels of care, which is particularly important in specialty settings like oncology and free clinics. In oncology, for example, where treatment may involve multiple specialists and modalities, effective coordination ensures that patients receive integrated care that addresses their needs. Similarly, telehealth enables efficient collaboration among healthcare providers in free clinics where resources may be limited due to the volunteer/staff model.

10. Tele-ICU Nursing

In Tele-ICU, nurses provide critical care support to bedside nurses by remotely monitoring patients’ vital signs and other critical data. They use advanced technology to assist with clinical decision-making and ensure timely interventions. 

The demand for tele-ICU nursing is substantial in Federally Qualified Health Centers and critical access hospitals as tele-ICU nursing helps to extend crucial care expertise to remote or understaffed units​​.

These are the ways of how to become a telehealth nurse practitioner. From managing chronic conditions, facilitating specialist consultations, enhancing care coordination, and providing remote patient monitoring, telehealth empowers nurses to deliver personalized and quality care. These advancements underscore telehealth’s pivotal role in improving accessibility, efficiency, and patient outcomes while positioning nurses at the forefront of healthcare innovation in the digital age.

Are Patients Ready for Telehealth in Nursing?

According to recent studies, 89% of patients rated telehealth as either “Excellent” or “Very Good,” while only 3% rated it as “Fair” or “Poor.” Similarly, 83% of patients consider it “Extremely Important” or “Very Important” for telehealth to remain available as an option in the future. This means that a considerable number of people are willing to use remote healthcare services and may be more open to telehealth in nursing. 

Patients appreciate the ability to receive care without the need to travel, which is especially beneficial for those in remote or underserved areas. 

Additionally, the flexibility of telehealth appointments helps patients manage their schedules more effectively.

Core Patient Concerns About Telehealth in Nursing and How to Deal with Them

Patients still have concerns about nursing and telehealth despite its many benefits. Telehealth critics argue that telehealth may compromise continuity of care due to its perceived impersonal nature and the absence of comprehensive physical exams that aid in diagnosis and treatment decisions. While telehealth is valuable as a supplement to in-person visits, it should not replace face-to-face encounters entirely, particularly when physical interaction like auscultation or palpation is necessary. Legal and regulatory hurdles further complicate telehealth adoption, with varying rules across states leading to confusion among healthcare providers.

For remote care to be effective and satisfactory, telemedicine software developers and adopters must address these concerns. When implementing telehealth in nursing, it is crucial to consider patients’ fears and worries, as only then will people trust the provider, use their services, and benefit fully from them.

Core Patients ConcernIssueSolution
Fear of TechnologyPatients, especially those with serious diseases, often fear using new technology and prefer traditional face-to-face interactions with healthcare providers.Offer personalized assistance and demonstrate the ease and benefits of telehealth. A trial period where patients can experience telehealth in a low-stress environment might also help increase their comfort level.
Procedural Faults and Infrastructure IssuesPeople may face issues due to the lack of necessary medical services and devices in telehealth settings, long appointment wait times, and technological failures such as poor internet connectivity.Improve the telehealth infrastructure, including internet reliability and availability of essential medical devices. You may also implement technical support and streamline appointment scheduling processes through flexible online booking.
Limited Scope of Telehealth ServicesPatients are concerned that telehealth cannot fully replace in-person visits, especially for complex diagnoses and physical examinations.Use telehealth as a complementary service rather than a complete replacement for in-person care. Clear communication about the limitations and appropriate use of telehealth can help set realistic patient expectations.
Privacy and SecurityA common worry is the privacy and security of personal health information when using telehealth services. People fear that their data might be exposed to unauthorized parties, and for good reason — in 2023, 133 million records were exposed.Use secure, encrypted telehealth platforms that comply with regulations such as HIPAA in the U.S. Educating patients about security measures and ensuring that their data is protected can help alleviate these concerns. Additionally, you should communicate clear data protection policies to patients.
Quality of CarePatients may feel that the absence of physical examinations could compromise the accuracy of diagnosis and treatment. 52% of patients have concerns about the quality of telemedicine-based care.Emphasize the capabilities of telehealth technologies, such as high-definition video consultations and remote monitoring tools. Don’t use telehealth for vulnerable patients who are likely to skip appointments or have limited language proficiency.

Addressing these core concerns ensures that telehealth in nursing effectively meets patient needs. By implementing solutions that enhance patient trust, comfort, and access to care, healthcare providers can optimize telehealth adoption and improve patient outcomes.

Future Developments in Telehealth and How They May Impact Nursing 

American Telemedicine Association (ATA) states that over 50% of healthcare services will be accessed virtually by 2030. The popularity of telehealth results in the versatility of applications, including telehealth systems, and makes software providers compete in functionality and innovative technologies they implement in telehealth solutions. 

These are the main telehealth tech trends that will shape nursing care in the nearest future.

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Integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

One exciting development in telehealth is the integration of Artificial intelligence. AI can assist nurses in clinical decision-making, patient monitoring, and predicting potential health issues based on patterns. AI algorithms can analyze patient data, identify trends, and alert nurses to critical changes. 

Automated data processing and analytics will make nursing care more accurate and efficient. Nurses will spend more time interacting with patients and less time processing data.

Expansion of Remote Patient Monitoring

The use of wearable devices and remote patient monitoring tools is set to expand and make continuous health data collection possible outside of clinical settings. In 2023, the global remote patient monitoring market was estimated to generate $71.9 billion in revenue. This market will grow to $207.5 billion by 2028.

Telemedicine nurses will have access to comprehensive patient data in real-time. This will enable them to monitor chronic conditions more effectively and intervene promptly when necessary. As a result, patients will benefit from better management of diseases such as diabetes and heart failure and reduced hospital readmissions.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

VR and AR technologies in telehealth are revolutionizing patient care and medical training. Undergraduate nurses can wear an AR headset to view how the remote mentor performs various medical manipulations and learn more effectively.

VR and AR capabilities are also being explored for patient education and rehabilitation. For instance, VR enhances patients’ understanding of medical conditions and treatment plans through immersive experiences. Researchers have utilized Oculus VR glasses or headsets to educate patients through 3D 360° VR anatomical models to improve their knowledge of illness.

VR and AR can guide patients through exercises in a virtual environment during rehabilitation, allowing nurses to monitor and adjust treatments remotely. That’s how telehealth and VR/AR integration can enhance patient engagement and adherence to therapy.

Telehealth and other tech innovations are transforming nursing practice, and its future looks promising. The integration of AI, the expansion of remote patient monitoring, and the adoption of VR and AR technologies will shape nursing care in the following years. Therefore, healthcare market players should invest in advanced telehealth development and implementation to stay competitive and address patients’ needs.

Empeek for Telemedicine Nurse Software Development

If you are looking for a reliable medical software development company to develop your telehealth solution – we are here to help. Empeek has expertise in creating advanced healthcare software solutions that enhance patient care, streamline processes, ensure data security, and lower healthcare costs. Here are some of the projects we developed.

Remote Patient Monitoring System

Our team has developed custom software that uses cellular and Wi-Fi technology to collect health data from wearables and securely transmit it to healthcare providers for assessment. Our solution supports various devices like blood pressure monitors and glucose meters. This new system improved patient care management, reduced hospital visits, and lowered healthcare costs. Read the full case study.

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Remote Patient Monitoring System
AI-powered Heart Monitoring Solution

We have developed an AI-powered heart monitoring system designed to enhance cardiovascular healthcare. The system integrates artificial intelligence to analyze electrocardiogram (ECG) data in real-time, aiming to improve the accuracy and efficiency of diagnosing heart conditions. It leverages machine learning algorithms to detect anomalies and predict potential cardiac issues early on. The AI system monitors ECG signals from patients, identifying abnormalities such as arrhythmias or other cardiac events. Read the full case study.

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AI-powered Heart Monitoring Solution

Explore our telehealth solutions to learn more about how we build custom software for nurses, practitioners, patients, and other healthcare market stakeholders.

Conclusion

Telehealth transforms nursing practice by offering significant benefits for patients, medical staff, and healthcare providers. It enhances accessibility, efficiency, and quality of care, allowing nurses to provide timely interventions and continuous care regardless of geographical barriers. 

Nurses play a crucial role in telehealth, from program development and implementation to direct patient care and remote monitoring. They can educate and coach patients, perform triage, monitor chronic conditions, and coordinate care across multiple providers. These roles demonstrate the versatility and importance of telehealth in modern nursing.

Telehealth is not just a temporary solution.

It’s a permanent transformation in healthcare delivery that promises a future of more accessible, efficient, and high-quality care. Nurses, equipped with the right tools and training, are at the forefront of this revolution.

At Empeek, we are here to help you implement telehealth in nursing. Contact us to get started. 

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Written by:
Alex Shpachuk Alex Shpachuk CEO
Alex Shpachuk is the owner and strategic partner of Empeek. His effective leadership and a visionary approach to the future of healthcare turned the company into a dynamic environment attracting the brightest minds with the common vision for product impact and service excellence. With over a decade of experience in software engineering and comprehensive knowledge of designing and deploying tailor-made solutions for healthcare providers, Alex channels his passion for software development and consulting into the written word.

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