Congratulations! You passed your NCLEX® exam and now you’re ready to find the perfect job. Many of your classmates may be researching opportunities in traditional healthcare settings like hospitals, hospice, rehab and skilled nursing. But, if you’re looking for something different, and maybe even the opportunity to work from home, you might look into telehealth nursing. Telehealth is a burgeoning field and with it comes a myriad of opportunities for nurses.
Telehealth is the healthcare of the future – or at least a segment of it. Increasingly, healthcare systems are using telehealth to reduce pressure on emergency departments by seeing patients early, triaging and treating symptoms that need attention, but not necessarily an Emergency Room (ER) bay. They are also treating behavioral issues, child health and wellness and substance use.
Examples of Telehealth Opportunities
New York Presbyterian (NYP) uses telemedicine for its patients and found that it reduced reduces 24-hour wait times to less than 1 hour for psychiatric and express care visits.
Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas uses telemedicine to reach children in rural areas who need pediatric rheumatology services. Four times a year, a rheumatologist and RN conduct at 45-minute telemedicine visit with children who live 157 miles from the hospital.
Last year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a mobile app for those in treatment for substance use disorders. It’s designed to be used along with outpatient treatments and helps those in recovery to manage substance abuse problems with alcohol, marijuana, cocaine or other stimulants, but not opioids.
Patients want telemedicine. After all, they are savvy digital consumers. They see no reason why healthcare can’t offer the same convenience, efficiency and access they currently have with banking and other services. A survey on the topic showed that patients are waiting for health systems to catch up with their demand for telemedicine:
- 78% of those willing to have a video visit with a doctor would be happy to manage chronic conditions via video consults with their PCP
- 65% were very or somewhat interested in conducting video visits with their PCP.
- 60% of respondents said that they would be willing to use them to manage a chronic condition
- 52% of adults reported that they were willing to participate in post-surgical or post-hospital-discharge visits through video.
Telehealth Nursing Opportunities
This is the growth, innovation, and demand that are fueling telehealth opportunities for nurses. Opportunities are growing in some of the following areas:
Home Health Nursing
From remote monitoring systems to managing patient care, telehealth is bolstering home health. One example of a robust program comes out of the MultiCare Health System in Tacoma, Washington. Their program placed 100 monitors in the homes of patients with chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder (COPD), pneumonia and heart disease. Registered nurses work with patients and receive alerts to values outside normal levels. The nurses and intervene immediately before conditions lead to adverse events.
Rural Care and Hospital Collaboration
More than 120 of the 2,375 rural hospitals in the US have closed since 2005, 83 of them since 2010. Telehealth is filling the gaps left behind. Nursing teams are triaging and treating patients and then connecting and collaborating with providers and specialists as necessary. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just increased funding for the Universal Service Fund’s Rural Healthcare Program by $171 million a year.
Telehealth ICUs hire critical care nurses remotely to monitor patients for wound care and sepsis management. The site reports, “Advanced ICU Care, the self-proclaimed leading tele-ICU provider in the United States, has several job openings for Tele ICU/Critical Care RNs, from Houston to New York to Maryland.”
Telehealth in all its various forms is going to continue to expand. It has already shown that it has the power and potential to improve patient outcomes and drastically reduce costs. Getting in on the ground floor of this exploding technology can be exciting and challenging, with the promise of expansive career growth in the future.