Telehealth Nursing: Revolutionizing Remote Healthcare
In the time of universal domination of digital technologies and communications, it is impossible to imagine any kind of activity where the possibilities of people’s distant communication would not be used. Such methods, certainly, got wide recognition in the field of medicine. Telehealth nursing is rendering highly skilled help on a long distance with the use of modern means of communication and telecommunication. Experts are capable of rendering such assistance from any point of the world.
Telehealth nursing is a complex concept for systems, services and activities in the field of health care, which can be transferred remotely by means of information and telecommunication technologies. Its purpose is to develop the world health care, gain control over the distribution of diseases as well as to promote education, management and research in the field of nursing.
Telehealth nursing is an advanced modern branch. Moreover, telehealth nursing was formed on a joint of nursing, modern telecommunications and computer technologies. Thanks to achievements in these spheres, telehealth nursing is successfully applied to address the need of information exchange between experts. Therefore, it brings a lot of good results, increasing the quality and availability of qualified diagnostics and treatment of patients.
The global Internet and video equipment allow transferring almost instantly any data on a state of health in the best federal and foreign clinics. Not only text information, but also graphic, photo and video data of diagnostic researches and medical manipulations can be transferred. Thus, it is not necessary to go anywhere as the aid will come from the modern telehealth nursing, allowing people to receive consultations of highly skilled experts from remote clinics.
The achievement strategy “health for all” includes the increase in duration of life, alignment of the health care quality in one country with achievements in other countries and regions. This strategy aims at ensuring availability of primary medical and sanitary help and other elements of medical services and systems (ATA, 2012). One of the paramount policy problems in the field of telehealth nursing is the use of information and telecommunication technologies for the increase in the level of access and information exchange of the medical and educational contents in order to provide people with additional possibilities for maintenance and improvement of their own health. It also means providing doctors of any specifications with information and consultations from various medical organizations and experts. Therefore, “the telehealth nursing implementation is not an end in itself but a supportive application of the health care” (What is Telemedicine?, 2012).
Telehealth nursing can be used in understaffed medical centers and city, rural, and remote areas for the increase in quantity and quality of staff performance in the spheres of health protection, cure and care of patients. Thus, various countries can improve their work on control, prevention and treatment of diseases. Telehealth nursing can also promote advancement in such areas as organization of the health systems, provision of healthy food, water supply, hygiene of the population, and environment. The potential of telemedical technologies for separate groups of the population, such as children and their mothers, teenagers, elderly, and disabled people living in remote regions, is especially great. It is supposed that telehealth nursing will have a considerable impact on healthy lifestyle implementation, improvement of the process of education, and especially, illiteracy elimination by the use of means of multimedia. Moreover, telemedical technologies provide unique possibilities for distance learning and professional development of medical workers.
Telemedical interaction is not considered as a unilateral process but assumes the exchange of information for the purpose of letting the scientific knowledge as well as experience of the personnel on places to grow. It should promote health improvement of the population at the international, national and local levels.
The experience of some developed countries shows that the implementation of telemedical technologies could increase health efficiency and comfort, as well as reduce the expenses related to the use of human, technical and financial resources (ATA, 2012). However, it is necessary to pay special attention to how to provide an appropriate realization of these advantages in the developing countries in compliance with their paramount requirements.
Experience of implementation of telemedical projects worldwide enables to allocate the following advantages of telehealth nursing: a) remote control of chronic patients reduces the time of their staying in clinic; b) effective use of telemedical systems leads to general reduction of the waiting time in health systems; c) information and telecommunication technologies will help to overcome the isolation of seriously ill patients and disabled people; d) these technologies allow certain patients to exchange personal experience and give the chance to consider various opinions on the health system, additionally, such technologies can make medical information available for public purposes (at home, at schools and in medical centers), as well as for those who did not receive it due to medical care earlier (in suburban and rural areas); f) the society can use information and telecommunication technologies for creating special networks of “self-help” and providing medical information, which stimulates people to their own health assurance (Castelli, 2012).
Additionally, the availability of means of multimedia (visual, text, audio, graphic) is able to overcome illiteracy of users and to help them with a choice of the way to exchange information interesting to them. Telehealth nursing allows the bigger number of people to be diagnosed and surveyed in local clinics without going to large medical centers in the cities. Ensuring universal medical services became technically possible for the first time. Also, telecommunications can promote the provision of medical education, information and medical care to the population living in remote areas. The doctors-specialists will not be limited by distances and geographical boundaries. Medical experts who were earlier in isolation in remote areas can continue training in the specialty and even have practice — telehealth nursing gives them a chance of receiving experience and new knowledge. To add, scarce resources, such as expensive equipment and experts, can be used for servicing a considerably bigger number of patients. Plus, telehealth nursing offers a global distribution of skills and knowledge just as access to the international databanks on various medical specialties becomes possible throughout the whole world. It ensures that a medical certificate becomes available to everyone. Also, telehealth nursing may lead to improvements in the sphere of public health care, ranging from the increase in information provided to the decrease in mortality from diseases.
Telehealth nursing provides possibilities of consultation quality improvement and improvement of final diagnosing owing to the use of advanced equipment to boost the assistance quality. In telehealth nursing, the reduction of expenses can be achieved by providing medical care to some patients at home instead of hospitalization, which will lead to the reduction of expenses on patients’ transportation and medical experts’ trips. In telehealth nursing, recommendations of qualified experts can be transferred to a mobile telemedical aid station in case of emergency situations and accidents, as well as to similar stations found on vessels, planes or ambulance cars.
Experience has proved that telehealth nursing helps to improve the activity of medical institutions, assists in solving the problems of lack of staff and in reducing the cost of medical staff training in regions. What is more, telehealth nursing has proved that it can well provide a joint support to the doctors working in remote and isolated areas, having increased a work appeal for them.
Thus, a well-planned strategy in the field of telehealth nursing will open a wider access to medical care and promote the improvement of the population health, as well as improvement of the overall quality of medical care.
The purpose of the consultation with the use of telehealth nursing can be to specify a diagnosis, select an optimum tactics of treatment; control the condition of a patient after treatment, operation or specific therapy, especially, if they have been carried out in a foreign clinic; obtain the conclusion on the examination, carried out earlier; as well as provide a preliminary consultation before going to an internal consultation, treatment or operation in clinics of other countries.
The factors, which constrain the implementation of telehealth nursing in rural and remote areas are lack of information; absence of training options and professional development possibilities; shortage of resources; considerable turnover of staff; lack of necessary infrastructure (power supply, servicing and so on); lastly, restrictions in the use of means of communication.
However, approaching creatively to the solution of these problems in each case, workers in healthcare of developing countries can overcome them. Cooperation and support from the workers of the Ministries of Communications and governmental bodies are especially important here.
Telehealth nursing is an exclusive possibility of a new millennium. It is especially relevant in a promptly changing world with its “double burden” of old and recurring diseases, which are widespread in many developing countries. Telehealth nursing can serve as a powerful lever of growth and development for developing countries, opening “an access to huge volumes of new development, information and ideas” (What is Telemedicine?, 2012). Schools, clinics and libraries have an opportunity to maintain close interaction and exchange of information in the field of health care. Many scientists consider that telehealth nursing can become the key tool in the achievement of the general goal — “health for all” in the 21st century.
American Telemedicine Association (2012). Telemedicine defined. American Telemedicine Association. Retrieved from http://www.americantelemed.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3333
Castelli, D. (2012). Telehealth technologies addressing the global impending nursing shortage. NursingCenter.com. Retrieved from http://www.nursingcenter.com/CareerCenter/static.asp?pageid=800469
What is telemedicine? (2012). TeleMedicine.com. Retrieved from http://www.telemedicine.com/whatis.html