What is Telemedicine and What Does It Mean for Nurses?
Mar 27, 2020 09:43
Telemedicine is a new field of medicine and comes under the broader umbrella of telehealth. Telemedicine is all about using information and technology for, as the WHO puts it, “healing at a distance.”
There are a growing number of career opportunities in the field of telemedicine for nurses. Given that telemedicine is likely to play an increasingly prominent role in clinical practice going forward, nurses should get to grips with it as soon as they can.
What Is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is a relatively new innovation that is making health care more accessible and cost-effective by enabling healthcare providers to offer services remotely. We now have the technology to easily transmit high-quality audio and video feed over long distances. It is therefore now feasible for a doctor or nurse to conduct an examination with patients remotely, offering them a quick diagnosis and potentially being able to suggest rapid treatment protocols.
The benefits of telemedicine can be felt by physicians and patients alike, and the rise of the industry provides some unique opportunities for nurses. As technologies that underpin telemedicine continue to advance, we are rapidly moving to a point where every smartphone is a potential diagnostic tool. As time goes on, it seems that telemedicine is only going to become more significant to the healthcare industry at large.
What Are the Benefits?
Telemedicine isn't just a new way of utilizing technology; there are some very real and tangible benefits to investing in telemedicine.
●More accessible healthcare: There is a big problem across the United States with getting the average person to access healthcare when they need it. This is in part driven by financial considerations; many people simply cannot afford to go to the doctor unless absolutely necessary. Telemedicine makes healthcare more accessible, and as we will come onto - more cost-effective. Improving general access to health care has knock-on benefits for everyone, not just the people whose access is improved. Better access to healthcare means that more people will receive essential services like vaccines, and ensures that infectious diseases are treated as soon as possible. Telemedicine services can be provided using webcams and laptops, but they can also now be provided through smartphones. For people who have access to mobile data networks but not a conventional internet connection, this is a vital development.
●More cost-effective healthcare: Telemedicine workers are able to offer their services and advice to large numbers of people remotely. This enables them to keep their own costs down and enables them to see more patients in a day. Together, this leads to lower prices at the point of access, and therefore a more cost-effective solution for minor healthcare issues. Providing more cost-effective healthcare eliminates one of the most significant barriers preventing many people from accessing the healthcare services that they need.
●Improve patient engagement: The more willing and able a local population is to access healthcare services, the better the health of everyone around them will be. Improving access to health care means that more people end up vaccinated, preventing the worst infectious diseases from taking hold. When infectious diseases do arise, appropriate advice and treatment can be given quickly. Telehealth is a modern solution for improving patient engagement that is proving to really work. Its benefits are already being felt by communities around the world.
Opportunities for Nurses
The telemedicine industry presents numerous opportunities for nurses looking to advance or change their careers.
●Monetize your experience: The more experience you have working as a nurse, the more money you can make. If you already have significant nursing experience, telemedicine is another opportunity for you to monetize that experience. As is the case in all other arenas, the nurses who have the most experience and seniority will be able to snap up the best jobs. More junior nurses might be able to fill the gaps, but experience counts for a lot in this industry.
●Work from home: There are a few industries remaining now that do not offer remote working opportunities. Obviously, there are many things in healthcare that can only be delivered in person - telemedicine cannot solve every problem. However, many people, especially in the United States, do not access conventional healthcare services when they have basic inquiries or need advice. There are a number of reasons for this, from the financial cost of doing so, to the ability to just Google questions and find answers for ourselves. However, the advice of nurses remains indispensable and telemedicine, therefore, provides nurses with plenty of opportunities to utilize their skills while working from home.
●Leverage your degree: Nursing is one of the few professions where workers are in charge of the rate of their progression through it. When nurses want to advance through the ranks, they will need to study for the relevant degree qualification. However, even after investing in a nursing degree, there is no guarantee that a position of that level will open up. However, by taking advantage of accelerated nursing programs online, and opportunities in the telemedicine industry, you can improve your earnings potential and then capitalize on that improvement reliably.
Telehealth Vs Telemedicine
There are some subtle but key differences between telemedicine and telehealth. Both of these terms refer to similar things, but whereas telemedicine is focused on delivering clinical healthcare to patients remotely, telehealth also encompasses the business side of healthcare and how that can be remotely dispensed as well.
For nurses, it is telemedicine that provides career opportunities. If you want to transition into the business side of things, then you will need to look into nursing administration degrees.
For any nurse who is looking for a modern and exciting field to work in, telemedicine has numerous opportunities for you. Telemedicine is a new field, but it is one that is advancing rapidly. With our technology improving year-on-year, so are the capabilities of telemedicine. We are now in a situation where nurses can do meaningful work and offer potentially lifesaving advice remotely. This helps to make healthcare more accessible for those who would otherwise not be able to access it, and also more affordable for those who are priced out of the traditional healthcare options.
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