From packed beds to the intensive care unit, telehealth is changing the way medical care takes place. It’s improving communication between doctors and patients and between healthcare staff members. This leads to greater productivity and better quality of care.
In an online survey conducted by the American Journal of Critical Care , 79 percent of ICU nurses agreed that implementing these telemedicine technologies improved their ability to do their jobs.
Tele-ICU systems connect more than 200 hospitals and over 800 nurses to facilitate high-quality care and patient safety where it’s needed most. Nursing staff trained in the skills to manage and deploy these systems are also helping thousands of other networked providers around the U.S..
Telehealth can be described as electronic systems that utilize visual and audio devices to monitor the patients and treatments taking place. Healthcare staff can immediately receive alerts or review vital signs on any patient, quickly review multiple individuals, note their physical status, and coordinate diagnostic or laboratory results with each patients’ medical records. This enables providers to make better and faster decisions regarding care. It can also be used to connect doctors from different facilities around the country for consultations with experts.
The time savings allow nurses to focus more of their time and energy on their patients The net result is high-quality care and better outcomes for patients, but also more efficient operations for the provider.
Telehealth can help hospitals to manage costs, improve care, and reduce staff turnover, improvements that can make healthcare institutions more competitive and more profitable in an industry that’s always changing and growing.
While the benefits of these digital systems are obvious, they are still somewhat limited in scope. Further discussion, training, and improvements are needed to expand the use of these systems and enable nursing staff to utilize them to full effect.
According to the American Journal of Critical Care report, resistance to the use of telemedicine systems lies in the impression that reliance on these in-house electronic networks will detract from the “human” quality of patient care. Others may experience problems with audio or visual feeds that build negative attitudes toward the value of the equipment. In any organization, employee resistance to new technologies is common, as staff are slow to make them part of their established routine.
Additional training and technical support may be the answer. Institutions need to become familiar with the telemedicine guidelines established by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). Administrators should also identify and set forth their own standards and goals in applying the technology, and communicate this clearly to staff.
This will help providers to more smoothly and effectively implement telehealth systems that are gradually becoming part of basic hospital operations. It will eventually become clear that the advantages of modern high-quality care systems far outweighs the pitfalls, especially as further training and technical advances continue to improve outcomes.