Pain is a disease

September is Pain Awareness Month.

Understanding chronic pain is critical to how we support our patients on our service.

Join us in our learning:

Pain Awareness Month – International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) (iasp-pain.org)

September is Pain Awareness Month: Complexity and Progress in Pain Research | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (nih.gov)

Pain Awareness Month 2023 – U.S. Pain Foundation (uspainfoundation.org)

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease* (a disease with an unclear cause that is characterized by inflammation caused by dysfunction of the immune system) that causes inflammation in the body. There may be visible signs of inflammation such as raised plaques (plaques may look different for different skin types) and scales on the skin. 

This occurs because the overactive immune system speeds up skin cell growth. Normal skin cells completely grow and shed (fall off) in a month. With psoriasis, skin cells do this in only three or four days. Instead of shedding, the skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin. Some people report that psoriasis plaques itch, burn, and sting. Plaques and scales may appear on any part of the body, although they are commonly found on the elbows, knees, and scalp.

Inflammation caused by psoriasis can impact other organs and tissues in the body. People with psoriasis may also experience other health conditions. One in three people with psoriasis may also develop psoriatic arthritis. Signs of PsA include swelling, stiffness and pain in the joints and areas surrounding the joints. PsA often goes undiagnosed, particularly in its milder forms. However, it’s important to treat PsA early on to help avoid permanent joint damage.

Symptoms often start between ages 15 and 25, but can start at any age. Menwomen, and children of all skin colors can get psoriasis.

From https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/

Learn More at…

Aging as an adventure

Aging can have a negative connotation in our culture.

One of the goals we have at Elite is to promote healthy aging. We are intentional in our community work to preserve people’s wishes for independence, their voice in their healthcare plans, and building rehabilitation around their needs. Through home health, palliative care, and hospice, we value and respect aging. Our goal is to join you on your journey.

For information on the best aging strategies, check out:
Dishman, Eric. “Inventing wellness systems for aging in place.” Computer 37.5 (2004): 34-41.

Mitzner, Tracy L., et al. “Self-management of wellness and illness in an aging population.” Reviews of human factors and ergonomics 8.1 (2013): 277-333.

Coughlin, Joseph F., and James Pope. “Innovations in health, wellness, and aging-in-place.” IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine 27.4 (2008): 47-52.

If you are open to a new perspective, check out…

Benefits of monitoring vitals via telehealth

Through remote vitals monitoring, clinicians can track their patient’s health in real time, take proactive steps to prevent deterioration, and identify potential health issues. This helps reduce hospital visits and readmissions while keeping clinicians connected with patients.

As the telemedicine industry continues to evolve, clinicians have access to an increasing number of clinical-grade monitoring devices to measure key vital signs remotely.

Monitoring Patient Vitals with RPM

Remote patient monitoring, also known as RPM, is a method of healthcare delivery that collects patient data outside of traditional healthcare settings using advances in information technology. As part of an RPM program, a patient’s vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, oxygen saturation level, and temperature, are remotely monitored using digital tools and devices.

Let’s dive deeper into the five key benefits of remote vitals monitoring:

  1. Increased Access to Value-Based Care
  2. Improved Patient Outcomes
  3. Healthcare Cost Savings
  4. Enhanced Patient Engagement
  5. Increased Healthcare Provider Efficiency

1. Increased Access to Value-Based Care

Replacing the traditional fee-for-service reimbursement model, value-based care ties payment for care delivery to the quality of patient care. Implementing value-based care effectively improves patient outcomes and reduces care costs; however, it presents some challenges to the healthcare system.

Lack of resources is one of the most pressing challenges facing organizations looking at implementing value-based care. Remote vitals monitoring can help alleviate some of these challenges by helping providers increase capacity. Through virtual visits and remote vitals monitoring, providers can increase staff efficiency and focus more energy on the highest risk patients. As an average across clients, remote monitoring allows a ratio of 80 to 100 patients for every telehealth nurse.

Value-based care centers around cost-efficiency, achieving better patient outcomes, and increasing patient satisfaction. These are also the pillars of a successful remote monitoring program.

2. Improved Patient Outcomes

Checking vitals such as heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels usually requires scheduling in-person doctor visits. This can be stressful, especially for those who must take time off from work or coordinate with family members for transportation. But with remote monitoring technology, patients can share their vitals using Bluetooth-enabled biometric devices from the comfort of their homes, making it easier for patients and family caregivers to be more involved in health management, thereby improving health outcomes.

As a real-life example, patients enrolled in the remote monitoring program with Southcoast VNA are monitored daily, with clinicians responding to risk alerts based on their reported vitals and symptoms. To quickly evaluate patients and address any concerns, providers can contact patients directly via a virtual visit or text messaging.

This care model replaces at least one in-person visit a week with a virtual visit, and the additional touchpoint has significantly improved physician-patient trust and communication, while decreasing care costs and staff workload by avoiding unnecessary in-home visits.

In the last 16 months, from October of 2021 until January of 2023, the Southcoast VNA’s RPM program has achieved a low 30-day readmission rate at seven percent for 2,621 high-risk patients.

3. Healthcare Cost Savings

Remote vitals monitoring can significantly reduce avoidable ER visits, unnecessary hospitalizations, and readmissions, thus reducing healthcare costs. Vital monitoring devices may help patients have a greater understanding of their disease and risk alerts can notify providers of rising patient risk. This allows physicians to have visibility into their patient’s conditions and quickly intervene—without the associated costs of a hospital admission.

Southcoast VNA was able to save an average of four in-home nursing visits annually, and generated over $500,000 in cost savings, using virtual visits and remote monitoring.

4. Enhanced Patient Engagement

In a traditional healthcare setting, once a patient leaves the doctor’s office, care delivery ends until the next visit. Practitioners lose visibility into what is happening with their patients when they are not within their sight. They can only hope that the patients are following their advice.

But with remote monitoring, this barrier is removed, and practitioners have ongoing visibility into their patient’s health condition. This can improve the patient-practitioner relationship and drive better health outcomes. It’s important to implement a program that includes multiple communication channels (text messaging, videoconferencing, phone calls) and resources to support patient engagement. Both patients and clinicians need to be fully engaged with the program to see a positive impact.

5. Increased Healthcare Provider Efficiency

Remote vitals monitoring can help reduce ER visits and avoidable hospital readmissions, allowing practitioners to focus more of their time and energy on patients that need them the most. In the face of an ever-worsening nursing shortage, remote monitoring is key to making healthcare delivery more efficient and streamlined. Care providers can better position their staff to support the most at-risk patients, while also monitoring and educating patients with chronic conditions from afar.

Remote Vitals Monitoring: A Holistic Care Delivery Program

Remote monitoring is a critical part of the modern, value-based care model of healthcare delivery. For patients, remote vitals monitoring provides better access to care, improved health outcomes, and better quality of life. And for healthcare providers, remote monitoring technology allows improved chronic disease management, decreased disease exacerbations, increased productivity for clinicians through improved workflows, and reduced healthcare costs.

Elite Home Health & Hospice has partnered with Health Recovery Solutions to provide telehealth to the Lewis-Clark Valley, our Moscow service area, and our patients in the Orofino service area. If you or someone you know would benefit from these services, let us know at info@elitehhh.com. We would be happy to discuss next steps!

What is Telemonitoring and How does it help patients?

We’re sure you’ve heard of telemonitoring by now, but do you know how it improves the lives of patients? A rising number of healthcare providers are taking advantage of remote patient monitoring (RPM) to better monitor their patients chronic health conditions. If you’re looking for ways to improve clinical outcomes and quality of life for your patients, telemonitoring is a solution you can’t afford to overlook.

What Is Telemonitoring?

Telemonitoring is a remote health monitoring technology that allows patients to stay connected to their doctors and receive personalized care, all from the comfort of their home. This technology-based healthcare solution uses bluetooth connectivity to combine at-home monitoring devices and easy-to-use software to observe and assess patients remotely.

Telemonitoring is more commonly refered to as remote patient monitoring, which is often grouped within the broader categories of telehealth or telemedicine.

When this type of remote monitoring technology combines with dedicated support from a highly ranked remote patient monitoring company, it is a sustainable and scalable option for most healthcare settings.

Common Telemonitoring Devices

Now that you understand what telemonitoring is, you might be wondering what the system looks like. What types of telemonitoring devices go into the patient’s home to monitor their condition and pass that information back to the care team?  

Telemonitoring devices can vary depending on your patient’s needs and your preferences as a healthcare provider. Some of the most common monitoring devices include:

  • Blood pressure cuff
  • Glucometer
  • Pulse Oximeter
  • ECG
  • Digital stethoscope
  • Wearables
  • Thermometer
  • Scale

Another device that is often overlooked when listing telemonitoring tools is a tablet or smartphone. Effective telemonitoring systems rely on a smart mobile device to provide patients with medication reminders, symptom surveys, and enable video conferences with clinical staff. At HRS, we provide a customized kit of telemonitoring devices to best serve your patient population. We even handle the logistics of shipping and updating these devices so you can focus on what you do best, caring for your patients.

How Telemonitoring Supports Home Health

While many healthcare settings benefit from telemonitoring, home health agencies have seen significant improvements in their organizational clinical, operational and financial outcomes. A home health agency (HHA) is a public or private organization that delivers skilled nursing and other therapeutic services to a patient’s residence, rather than a more traditional healthcare setting.

HHAs are great because they provide greater autonomy and safety for patients while costing less. However, HHAs can struggle to attract and retain nursing staff and a lack of adequate staffing decreases the number of patients an HHA can support, negatively impacting revenue.

This is where telemonitoring comes in! Remote patient monitoring is a game-changer in home health services because it allows providers to monitor high-risk patients, increase patient engagement, improve medical adherence, and understand symptom trends – all without sending a nurse to the home. Together, these capabilities help home health agencies decrease the number of required in-home visits while also decreasing hospital readmissions for patients.

In a recent example, the Southcoast Health Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) saved an average of four in-home nursing visits annually and achieved a 7% readmission rate for over 2,600 patients by implementing remote patient monitoring with Health Recovery Solutions.  

While remote vitals monitoring is integral in the home health setting, it also provides a lot of benefits for providers across the care continuum. Some other care settings that benefit from telemonitoring include:

  • Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)
  • Physician Groups
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
  • Rural Health Centers (RHCs)
  • Hospice and Palliative

Use Case: Telemonitoring in Patients with Heart Failure

You can also think about the benefits of telemonitoring by considering the different conditions you can effectively manage using this model of care. Let’s look at remote monitoring and heart failure, for example.

Heart failure is a very common chronic condition in the U.S., with over 6 million people affected:

  1. Heart failure exacerbations often include symptoms such as shortness of breath, hacking cough, swelling in the lower portions of the body, or rapid and irregular heartbeat. These occurrences often lead to an emergency department visit and/or hospital admission for an adjustment of the patient’s care plan.
  2. Once discharged, the patient may enter a home healthcare program. Often, a patient completes home care and remains in outpatient care until they experience another disease exacerbation and the cycle repeats itself!

This cycle of disease exacerbation is inefficient, costly, and results in poor patient outcomes for vulnerable populations. Especially when you consider that 70% to 80% of patients hospitalized with heart failure are Medicare beneficiaries and HF doesn’t just impact the elderly. Younger patients from traditionally underserved populations are also affected. According to a study, black men remain a vulnerable population for HF hospital stays.

Telemonitoring has been proven to break this cycle and improve the patient quality of life. Studies show that heart failure patients who receive remote vital monitoring experience a reduced risk of all cause mortality and less heart failure and related hospitalizations. Making this life-saving tool more accessible to all patient populations is key towards breaking this cycle on a widespread basis.

How? Let’s take a look at an example.

MaineGeneral Eliminates Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Readmissions with Health Recovery Solutions

MaineGeneral is a comprehensive non-profit system located in Augusta, Maine. They offer a range of healthcare services for people of all ages in a variety of care settings, including telemonitoring. 

After struggling with high readmission rates for patients with CHF during the COVID-19 pandemic, MaineGeneral knew something had to change. After identifying that CHF patients frequently require additional support and education, the MaineGeneral team decided to partner with HRS.

Through their RPM program, MaineGeneral’s care providers could monitor key vital signs like blood pressure, weight, and oxygen saturation of their CHF patients. This telemonitoring combined with dedicated registered nurses proved to be immensely effective.  

In May and June of 2022, MaineGeneral achieved a 0% CHF readmission rate compared to 20% and 26.7% in the prior year. That’s right – for two months straight, they had no CHF readmissions thanks to remote patient monitoring.

The Future of Telemonitoring

Telemonitoring is not the medicine of the future, it’s the medicine of right now. It is a valuable tool in modern healthcare, particularly in home health and for patients with chronic conditions like heart failure. This is because it can:

Remote patient monitoring is quickly becoming the standard in home healthcare settings for patients with heart failure as well as other cardiac conditions like hypertension and AFiB. What can the right telemonitoring system do for you?

Elite Home Health & Hospice has partnered with Health Recovery Solutions to provide telehealth services to our home health patients. If you feel that this level of monitoring and support would be beneficial for you, send us an email at info@elitehhh.com

Using Telehealth for CHF Management

Telehealth solutions present numerous benefits to patients struggling with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) management. As technology develops, an increasing number of clinicians will utilize telehealth solutions to improve patient outcomes and reduce hospital admissions. Will you be one of them?

Studies from the last 5 years consistently show that remote patient monitoring (RPM) interventions can reduce length of hospital stay and decrease mortality related to heart failure.

Don’t let your patients get left behind! Learn more about this technology so you can start providing critical CHF management tools to your patients.

CHF Management Best Practices

Heart failure is a chronic disorder that leaves patients prone to exacerbations and hospital readmissions. Clinicians are constantly challenged to find ways to reduce hospitalizations for worsening heart failure, which relies on effective patient management outside of the hospital setting.

According to the American Heart Association, heart failure patients should follow these CHF management best practices:

  • Follow their health care professional’s advice
  • Quit smoking (if applicable)
  • Take their medications exactly as prescribed
  • Weight themselves daily
  • Track daily fluid intake
  • Monitor blood pressure daily
  • Lose or maintain weight based on doctor’s recommendations
  • Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine
  • Follow a heart-healthy diet
  • Reduce sodium intake
  • Be physically active
  • Get adequate rest

This is a long list and so even the strictest of patients can miss one or two items.

How Telehealth Supports CHF Management: A Study

2018 randomized controlled trial aimed to evaluate the efficacy of remote patient management on mortality and morbidity in the heart failure patient population. The study compared patients who received telehealth plus usual care to patients who received only usual care.

Those in the CHF remote patient monitoring group used a tablet connected to electrocardiogram, blood pressure monitoring device, and weight scales that electronically transmitted the following data to their providers:

  • Body weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Analysis of heart rhythm
  • Peripheral capillary oxygen saturation (Sp02)
  • Self-rated health status change (on a scale from 1 to 5)

Patients in the telehealth group also received CHF patient education and direct communication between the telemedical center and each patient’s cardiologist. Additionally, a certified nurse conducted telephone interviews with patients on a monthly basis to review symptoms and help with any technical issues.

Patients in the usual care group were followed up according to the current protocol for the management of patients with heart failure. Both groups of patients were seen by a cardiologist at time of screening, for a baseline visit, and for a final visit. Additionally, patients were seen by their general practitioner (GP) or local cardiologist at 3, 5, and 9 months follow up. This allowed the GPs or cardiologist to adjust treatments as necessary throughout the study period.

Did these researchers find that RPM had any effect on the length of hospital stay?

The Results: Reduced Hospital Admissions

Yes they did!

The authors found that the percentage of days lost due to cardiovascular hospital admissions or all-cause death was significantly reduced in patients in the CHF remote patient monitoring group compared to the usual care group.

Specifically, the researchers found the following results related to days lost:

  • The percentage of days lost due to unplanned cardiovascular hospital admissions and all cause death was 4.88% in the remote patient management group and 6.64% in the usual care group.
  • Patients in the remote patient management group lost a mean of 17.8 days per year, while patients in the usual care group lost 24.2 days per year.
  • When looking at days lost due to worsening heart failure specifically, patients in the remote patient management group lost a mean of 3.5 days per year, while patients in the usual care group lost a mean of 5.6 days per year.

While cardiovascular mortality did not show a statistical difference between groups, the all cause death rate was significantly different between the remote patient management group and the usual care group:

  • The all cause death rate was 7.9% per 100 person years of follow-up in the remote patient management group and 11.34% per 100 person years of follow-up in the usual care group.

Another interesting result in the study pertained to the geographical location of the patients. The authors noted that the results of this study did not differ among patients in rural or metropolitan areas. This was a positive finding that demonstrates the potential of CHF telehealth to equalize healthcare access, regardless of where a patient resides.

More Proof of the Effectiveness of Telehealth

This study from 2018 hasn’t been the only one of its kind. Over the last few years, researchers have grown increasingly interested in studying the effects of telehealth on CHF management. The “virtual visit” is becoming a critical tool for providers to help patients properly execute CHF management outside of the hospital setting.

Remote patient monitoring for patients with CHF can facilitate early detection of signs and symptoms of cardiac decompensation, allowing you to quickly respond to your patients’ needs and subsequently reduce the likelihood of hospitalization. It also reduces the burden that CHF patients typically put on hospital systems by reducing readmissions.

Not only do studies prove that RPM works for CHF management, but forward-thinking healthcare systems prove it on a daily basis. MaineGeneral, a comprehensive non-profit system located in Augusta, Maine, achieved a 0% CMS-CHF readmission rate using remote patient monitoring.

The Future of CHF Management

Telehealth is an effective CHF management solution because it enables you to adjust patient care as needed.

The studies referenced above prove that. When physiological data is transmitted to clinicians on a daily basis, care providers are able to individualize care and respond quickly to patients’ changing medical needs, even while the patients are at home. This continuity of care is not possible without remote patient monitoring.

It’s time to start improving your patients’ care with CHF telehealth solutions. Telehealth solutions are a valuable, even necessary, component to any CHF management care plan. As the demand for value-based care and improved patient outcomes grows, more and more healthcare providers are adopting telehealth solutions and partnering with experienced providers, like Health Recovery Solutions (HRS).

Elite Home Health & Hospice is offering telehealth monitoring through Health Recovery Solutions for patients enrolled in our home health program. If you have questions or feel you may benefit from this program, please email us at info@elitehhh.com.

What is Telehealth Nursing?

Nursing is an incredibly important profession that can greatly impact the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Nurses provide vital services in hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, and other settings where they interact with and care for patients in need.

Telehealth nursing is a rapidly growing field that leverages the power of technology to help nurses provide better care. With the combination of advanced technologies and experienced nurses, telehealth programs can have a profound impact on patient health outcomes.

This blog aims to provide critical information on the benefits, challenges, and future of telehealth nursing for nursing leaders, including directors of nursing and chief nursing officers.

What is Telehealth Nursing?

Telehealth nursing is the use of telecommunications technology to provide healthcare services remotely. This includes video, phone, email, and text messaging platforms that allow nurses to communicate with patients who are unable to access in-person care due to distance, medical conditions, or other factors.

Telehealth nurses are often required to have specialized knowledge and skills to provide competent care. They must be able to assess patient needs and develop appropriate patient care plans. Telehealth nurses must also have excellent communication skills to effectively interact with patients via telephone or video conferencing. Additionally, they should be comfortable using computers and other technology to access patient information.

Nursing Informatics and Telehealth

Nursing informatics is a specialized area that combines nursing skills with communications, computer science, and information science. The core responsibilities of an informatics nurse include:

  • Improving workflows through communication and technology
  • Advancing patient safety through early identification of patient safety risks
  • Influencing healthcare policies to promote public health
  • Promoting patient autonomy and patient satisfaction
  • Improving patient-clinician relationships
  • Contributing to the construction of national data infrastructure

What Does a Telehealth Nurse Do?

Telehealth nurses are key members of the telehealth team, serving as an advocate for their patients and ensuring that patient needs are met efficiently while providing quality care.

Telehealth nurses perform some of the same functions as other nurses, but through remote communication. This includes assessing patient needs, developing care plans that meet each patient’s unique needs, monitoring a patient’s recovery progress and making necessary adjustments, coordinating services with other providers, and managing medications. They interact directly with patients via video conferencing or telephone to discuss symptoms, answer questions, and provide education.

The Importance of Nurses in an Effective Telehealth Program

Nurses, who practice at the top of their license, are essential to the success of any telehealth program. They are often the first point of contact for patients needing specialized care or treatment options, making them crucial for providing quality care to those who need it most. Telehealth nurses also help streamline and automate processes, freeing up time for more complex clinical tasks. This can significantly improve efficiency and lead to better patient outcomes.

Telehealth in Addressing Nursing Shortages

Telehealth is an essential tool for addressing nursing shortages. As an average across clients, telehealth and remote monitoring allows a ratio of 80 to 100 patients for every telehealth nurse. Nurses can see more patients in less time by reducing the need for in-person interactions. This reduces wait times and stress on healthcare systems by allowing nurses to provide care remotely. Additionally, telehealth can help reduce the number of missed appointments due to travel constraints and enable nurses to provide care to those in remote or rural areas who would otherwise have limited access.

Telehealth Case Study – Southcoast Health Reduces In-Home Visits with Virtual Care

Let’s explore an example of how telehealth can increase efficiency and decrease clinician workload. Southcoast Health is the biggest primary and specialty care provider in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, serving local communities for over 25 years.

Its Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) partnered with Health Recovery Solutions (HRS) to improve clinicians’ workload and patient care transition through telehealth and remote patient monitoring. Patients enrolled in the program are monitored daily, with clinicians responding to risk alerts based on vitals reported through Bluetooth biometric monitoring devices and patient symptoms.

Results

  • Saved an average of four in-home nursing visits annually
  • Generated $500,000 in cost savings
  • Achieved a 7% 30-day readmission rate

Challenges in Telehealth Nursing

There are many proven benefits to telehealth nursing but there are also some challenges in the field. Adapting to new telehealth technologies can be a challenge for nurses, especially those who are not tech-savvy. Another challenge is the shift from bedside nursing to remote monitoring. Since time spent directly interacting with patients is a huge component of the nursing profession, interacting and building rapport online can be a struggle. Some nurses also worry about the administrative burdens that come with the introduction of new technologies.

These challenges can be overcome with the right training and engagement strategies. The knowledge that remote patient monitoring increases patient safety and improves health outcomes can also help nurses overcome reservations around adopting telehealth. It’s important to communicate openly and regularly about the positive impact of the RPM program to keep key stakeholders engaged.

Nurse Training and Clinician Engagement

Nursing directors and chief nursing officers can boost telehealth engagement among nurses by using these training and clinician engagement strategies:

  • Provide early education to ensure that nurses are confident and comfortable using telehealth
  • Test nurses on their knowledge and utilization of the technology from time to time and reinforce education where needed
  • Share the positive outcomes of telehealth and its industry-wide adoption with the nurses
  • Streamline the logistics and administrative processes to eliminate all and any roadblocks to the adoption

Improving Patient Outcomes through Telehealth Nursing

Telehealth is here to stay and continues to grow in popularity. Telehealth nurses play a vital role in ensuring a telehealth program’s success. There may be roadblocks and hesitancy to adopt new technology at first, but understanding the impact telehealth can bring to individual patients, their families, and the larger patient population as well as its role in reducing nurse burnouts can help in embracing the technology.

Elite Home Health & Hospice proudly partners with Health Recovery Solutions to offer telehealth for patients on our home health service line. If you feel this is a service that would benefit you or a family member, reach out to us at info@EliteHHH.com. We would be happy to answer any questions you have and get you set-up.

What is Telehealth Nursing?

Nursing is an incredibly important profession that can greatly impact the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Nurses provide vital services in hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, and other settings where they interact with and care for patients in need.

Telehealth nursing is a rapidly growing field that leverages the power of technology to help nurses provide better care. With the combination of advanced technologies and experienced nurses, telehealth programs can have a profound impact on patient health outcomes.

This blog aims to provide critical information on the benefits, challenges, and future of telehealth nursing for nursing leaders, including directors of nursing and chief nursing officers.

What is Telehealth Nursing?

Telehealth nursing is the use of telecommunications technology to provide healthcare services remotely. This includes video, phone, email, and text messaging platforms that allow nurses to communicate with patients who are unable to access in-person care due to distance, medical conditions, or other factors.

Telehealth nurses are often required to have specialized knowledge and skills to provide competent care. They must be able to assess patient needs and develop appropriate patient care plans. Telehealth nurses must also have excellent communication skills to effectively interact with patients via telephone or video conferencing. Additionally, they should be comfortable using computers and other technology to access patient information.

Nursing Informatics and Telehealth

Nursing informatics is a specialized area that combines nursing skills with communications, computer science, and information science. The core responsibilities of an informatics nurse include:

  • Improving workflows through communication and technology
  • Advancing patient safety through early identification of patient safety risks
  • Influencing healthcare policies to promote public health
  • Promoting patient autonomy and patient satisfaction
  • Improving patient-clinician relationships
  • Contributing to the construction of national data infrastructure

What Does a Telehealth Nurse Do?

Telehealth nurses are key members of the telehealth team, serving as an advocate for their patients and ensuring that patient needs are met efficiently while providing quality care.

Telehealth nurses perform some of the same functions as other nurses, but through remote communication. This includes assessing patient needs, developing care plans that meet each patient’s unique needs, monitoring a patient’s recovery progress and making necessary adjustments, coordinating services with other providers, and managing medications. They interact directly with patients via video conferencing or telephone to discuss symptoms, answer questions, and provide education.

The Importance of Nurses in an Effective Telehealth Program

Nurses are essential to the success of any telehealth program. They are often the first point of contact for patients needing specialized care or treatment options, making them crucial for providing quality care to those who need it most. Telehealth nurses also help streamline and automate processes, freeing up time for more complex clinical tasks. This can significantly improve efficiency and lead to better patient outcomes.

Telehealth in Addressing Nursing Shortages

Telehealth is an essential tool for addressing nursing shortages. As an average across clients, telehealth and remote monitoring allows a ratio of 80 to 100 patients for every telehealth nurse. Nurses can see more patients in less time by reducing the need for in-person interactions. This reduces wait times and stress on healthcare systems by allowing nurses to provide care remotely. Additionally, telehealth can help reduce the number of missed appointments due to travel constraints and enable nurses to provide care to those in remote or rural areas who would otherwise have limited access.

Telehealth Case Study – Southcoast Health Reduces In-Home Visits with Virtual Care

Let’s explore an example of how telehealth can increase efficiency and decrease clinician workload. Southcoast Health is the biggest primary and specialty care provider in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, serving local communities for over 25 years.

Its Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) partnered with Health Recovery Solutions (HRS) to improve clinicians’ workload and patient care transition through telehealth and remote patient monitoring. Patients enrolled in the program are monitored daily, with clinicians responding to risk alerts based on vitals reported through Bluetooth biometric monitoring devices and patient symptoms.

Results

  • Saved an average of four in-home nursing visits annually
  • Generated $500,000 in cost savings
  • Achieved a 7% 30-day readmission rate

View the complete Southcoast Health case study

Challenges in Telehealth Nursing

There are many proven benefits to telehealth nursing but there are also some challenges in the field. Adapting to new telehealth technologies can be a challenge for nurses, especially those who are not tech-savvy. Another challenge is the shift from bedside nursing to remote monitoring. Since time spent directly interacting with patients is a huge component of the nursing profession, interacting and building rapport online can be a struggle. Some nurses also worry about the administrative burdens that come with the introduction of new technologies.

These challenges can be overcome with the right training and engagement strategies. The knowledge that remote patient monitoring increases patient safety and improves health outcomes can also help nurses overcome reservations around adopting telehealth. It’s important to communicate openly and regularly about the positive impact of the RPM program to keep key stakeholders engaged.

Nurse Training and Clinician Engagement

Nursing directors and chief nursing officers can boost telehealth engagement among nurses by using these training and clinician engagement strategies:

  • Provide early education to ensure that nurses are confident and comfortable using telehealth
  • Test nurses on their knowledge and utilization of the technology from time to time and reinforce education where needed
  • Share the positive outcomes of telehealth and its industry-wide adoption with the nurses
  • Streamline the logistics and administrative processes to eliminate all and any roadblocks to the adoption

Improving Patient Outcomes through Telehealth Nursing

Telehealth is here to stay and continues to grow in popularity. Telehealth nurses play a vital role in ensuring a telehealth program’s success. There may be roadblocks and hesitancy to adopt new technology at first, but understanding the impact telehealth can bring to individual patients, their families, and the larger patient population as well as its role in reducing nurse burnouts can help in embracing the technology.

Elite Home Health & Hospice is sharing this with you through a partnership with Health Recovery Solutions.