The benefits of telehealth in nursing has resulted in numerous benefits across the healthcare system.
As telehealth continues to expand and improve access to care and increase efficiency, it will become essential to define measures of care. Research is being conducted to identify key performance indicators. Some of the measures will include cross-continuum metrics such as the rate of readmissions, admissions, and ER visits related to telehealth. Additionally, provider, nursing, and patient satisfaction will also provide valuable information as well as financial indicators and health outcomes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called the National Quality Forum to recommend various indicators to measure the use of telehealth as a method of providing care to patients.
There are still challenges such as access to broadband internet that can limit telehealth services in rural areas, where healthcare services are needed. Licensure remains an issue for providers and nurses providing telehealth services across state lines; other issues include online prescribing regulations and patient privacy concerns.
Many advances were made due to the pandemic crisis and its strain on hospital systems. If these changes become permanent after the pandemic, nurses will have more tools to serve and educate patients and provide high-quality care.
Healthcare reform is an unending process that nurses have the ability to influence. As telehealth continues to expand, nurses will be phenomenal champions for telehealth. It is vital for nurses to identify and advocate for new opportunities to reach patients in the communities they reside in through telehealth. In doing so, nurses will close the gaps in healthcare delivery and reduce health disparities by stepping forward and utilizing the breadth of their skills to adapt, adopt and implement telehealth resources and services into the mainstream.
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Authored by Cindy Ebner, MSN, RN, CPHRM, FASHRM and Colleen Harris Marzilli, PhD, DNP, MBA, RN-BC, CCM, PHNA-BC, NEA-BC, FNAP