Telenursing: Is It in My Future?
Telenursing that focuses on application of telecommunication as well as information technologies has drastically shaped and modified provision of nursing services. It is assumed that telenursing, as an integral part of a telehealth, brings incredible advantages not only to healthcare personnel, but to patients as well. At the same time, telenursing faces numerous ethical and moral aspects that are often very challenging for both nurses and patients. The given paper aims to shed light on benefits and disadvantages of telenursing from patients and employees perspectives. Moreover, much attention will be paid to the impacts and correspondence of telenursing to personal career goals and life situation after the graduation.
Benefits of Telenursing
Due to a wide range of interconnected factors, especially high cost of health care services and the increased number of chronically ill people, telenursing has achieved popularity in different countries around the globe (Naditz, 2009). The researchers emphasize that in many Western societies, telenursing has quickly expanded in the sphere of health care and ensured high-quality remote access of people to professional health care services (Naditz, 2009). At present, telenursing is extensively applied in numerous health care settings for various purposes, especially to provide support, educate, and monitor patients with various health problems (Naditz, 2009). Although the majority of professionals in the sphere of health care disagree whether advantages of telenursing outweigh its negative impacts, many researchers insist that benefits of telenursing are enormous (Naditz, 2009). Thus, in health care, telenursing positively influences access of various populations to health care services, ensures financial return, promotes coordination of care, and, finally, significantly increases the quality of care (Naditz, 2009).
Odeh, Kayyali, Gebara, and Philip (2014) claim that the increased number of aging populations and proliferation of chronic diseases strengthen the significance of telenursing in health care. The authors emphasize that telenursing is a revolutionary technological innovation in the sphere of health care that gives the chance to families and separate individuals to obtain professional social as well as medical assistance and support in their own homes (Odeh et al., 2014). This, as the researchers believe, is the largest advantage of telenursing that patients receive (Odeh et al., 2014). In other words, telenursing assists the disabled and chronically ill individuals in receiving accurate diagnosis and timely as well as high-quality nursing intervention. It focuses on the application of high-quality equipment that gives the chance to health care providers to monitor and control patients health remotely, including even such interrelated factors as blood pressure and body weight (Odeh et al., 2014). According to the results of statistical data provided by the Department of Health with participation of 3230 individuals, telehealth has drastically decreased the percentage of hospital readmissions, duration of hospital stay, and, finally, mortality rates among patients with various diseases (Odeh et al., 2014). Thus, the researchers summarize that despite such factors as a lack of available resources, poor organizational as well as technical support, effective training and education of nurses that are referred to as the main barriers to quick and efficient implementation of telehealth, telenursing positively impacts the quality of health care services (Odeh et al., 2014). Telenursing provides benefits to patients and health care providers because teleheath and telenursing ease the workload of nurses and positively influence their professional development in the modern computerized world (Odeh et al., 2014).
Sisira Edirippulige (2010) shares the views of proponents of beneficial impacts of telenursing. In other words, the author of the article Readiness of Nurses for
Practicing Telehealth states that because information together with communication technological advancements quickly become integral elements of modern health care practices, nurses will benefit from telehealth because it is a good alternative for delivering professional health services (Edirippulige, 2010). The researcher supports the idea that telenursing is tremendously equally important for nurses and patients (Edirippulige, 2010). Taking into consideration patients perspective, one should mention that the most important benefits to patients focus on the quality of health care services (Edirippulige, 2010). From the perspective of nurses who represent the largest and the most important team of professionals in the sphere of healthcare, efficiency gains and cost effectiveness of services are important advantages of telenursing that shape the role of nurses (Edirippulige, 2010). Despite the fact that the process of integration and proliferation of telehealth in the field of nursing is very challenging and slow, telenursing is the future of nursing care because the shortage of nurses and low quality of healthcare services are pressing issues that can be solved with the help of telenursing (Edirippulige, 2010). In other words, since the shortage of educated, talented, and experienced nursing professionals is a global challenge, telenursing is the best solution to this problem. The research results provide convincing evidence that telenursing is a very effective and reliable method of providing support, care, and assistance to patients from a distance (Edirippulige, 2010). For instance, experiments comparing the effectiveness of telephone use and face-to-face meetings with a doctor with the participation of patients diagnosed with diabetes prove that both types of nursing services provide similar impacts on the glycemic control (Edirippulige, 2010). Moreover, numerous research studies provide convincing data that telenursing has positive effects on wound care management, hospital admission as well as readmission rates, mortality rates, and, finally, medication management (Edirippulige, 2010). For example, one of the recent studies conducted by Veterans Administration on the territory of the USA proves that numerous medication reminders, high-quality interactive voice response technologies, and telemonitoring tools are effective enough in teaching appropriate medication regimes among patients who suffer from Parkinsons disease (Edirippulige, 2010). Therefore, telenursing and telehealth offer innovative approaches to health care services, and positively influence remote monitoring of patients, cost saving, and continuous nursing support (Edirippulige, 2010). To begin with, remote telemonitoring benefits patients because this service enhances the quality of care, decreases admissions and readmissions to hospitals as well as other health care facilities, and teaches patients how to manage and support their health (Edirippulige, 2010). Since peer support is crucially important for the disabled individuals, telehealth and telenursing help patients overcome social isolation. In other words, online patient consultations assist patients in adapting to normal life (Edirippulige, 2010).
Disadvantages and Hidden Side Effects of Telenursing
However, many researchers insist that disadvantages of telenursing outweigh its positive effects on nurses and patients (Edirippulige, 2010). According to the estimations of Edirippulige (2010), cost effectiveness is considered the most significant barrier that endangers the development and implementation of telenursing in modern health. Despite the fact that many studies stress that telenursing decreases the amounts of the resources used, especially time and money, and positively affects health outcomes of chronically ill patients, numerous randomized controlled trials prove that traditional visits of skilled and experienced nurses, as compared to virtual visits, can effect patient outcomes at lower costs (Edirippulige, 2010).
Moreover, Sharma and Clarke (2014) are proponents of the idea that telehealth is not effective enough because it faces numerous hindrances, especially the lack of education and specific training of nurses, high costs, insufficient technical support, and imbalance between effective application of telehealth and personal visits of well-trained and experienced nurses. The research results prove that telehealth threatens daily work routines of nurses and the process of their interaction and collaboration with patients (Sharma & Clarke, 2014). Interviews with the participation of nurses, community matrons, and community support workers provide evidence that installation of telemonitoring equipment will negatively impact daily routines, workload, job roles, and, finally, job satisfaction of nurses (Sharma & Clarke, 2014). In addition, significant percentage of nurses claims that telecommunication technologies will never completely substitute presence of skilled professionals and face-to-face interaction among nurses and their patients (Sharma & Clarke, 2014). Moreover, telenursing and excessive dependence on technologies may lead to reduced social contact and, besides, result in the social exclusion of ill patients (Sharma & Clarke, 2014).
Finally, regardless of the fact that telenursing brings a vast scope of positive effects for both nursing personnel and patients, telenursing entails numerous ethical challenges directly associated with privacy and security of personal information, confidentiality, and autonomy (St George et al., 2009). Telenursing is believed to be extremely sensitive to ethics because of numerous reasons (St George et al., 2009). Respect for personal autonomy, accurate documentation of personal information, or obtaining informed consent is very challenging if a woman, for instance, calls in for her spouse (St George et al., 2009). In addition, not all telenurses have received professional training and special education related to privacy issues as well as confidentially of information of every caller. Furthermore, telenursing does not always correspond to occupational health as well as safety standards (St George et al., 2009).
Conclusions and Recommendations
Having identified and evaluated the key advantages and potential threats of telenursing, one can conclude that telenursing is crucially important because it provides substantial benefits to nurses and patients. The most important positive impacts of telenursing on nurses focus on a flexible schedule, balance of work as well as family life, continuous personal development, increased productivity, and many others. Taking into account patients perspective, it is important to stress that telenursing ensures easy access to health care services to people, increases the quality of services, and combats social isolation of patients with numerous disabilities and chronic diseases. On the contrary, negative impacts of telenursing on nurse-patient relationships and interactions, increased workload, threats of privacy, safety, and data security are main disadvantages of telenursing that negatively influence nurses and their patients. Finally, I would like to sum up that I believe that telenusing will positively influence my future after graduation because I am a proponent of the idea that acceptance of new technological advancements in the sphere of health care will have positive influence on the distance nursing services. I believe that numerous electronic monitoring tools, control systems, and assessment devices will be of positive influence on the quality of distant care. The potential of telenursing is enormous because it ensures a unique chance to provide aid to patients in geographically remote territories, maximize the quality of services, and decrease mortality and readmission rates.
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