Recent studies by the American Hospital Association on the use of telehealth nursing services have shown that 76% of patients prioritize access to care over the need for human interactions with their health care providers and 70% of patients are comfortable communicating with their health care providers via text, e-mail, or video, in lieu of seeing them in person. This trend toward remote and immediate access is becoming more prevalent in the industry and telehealth nursing positions are becoming more well-known and necessary in the care continuum.

Telehealth nursing assists the health care industry in many ways. According to the American Telemedicine Association, it contributes to reducing health care costs by decreasing hospital admissions and emergency department visits, assisting with managing chronic illnesses, and impacting the nursing shortage by improving nurse utilization.

Telehealth nursing is unique in that it can be practiced almost anywhere from clinics to offices, hospitals to call centers, and even nurses’ homes. It is vital in enabling health care providers to connect with patients across vast distances. These nurses aim to deliver and continuously improve patient access and adherence programs to ensure patients receive the best possible care at every stage of their therapeutic journey.

Below are a few additional facts that you may not have known about telehealth nursing:

  1. RNs have meaningful contact with patients because they do not have other patients to be seen or distractions from others coming in room, etc.; 1:1 uninterrupted time with patients.
  2. They get to build relationships with patients over the course of the entire disease process.
  3. Expertise extends deeper in the field because telehealth nurses have the opportunity to interact with other components beyond the patient including the provider, pharmacy, payer, and others.
  4. Telehealth nurses have the opportunity to learn about rare diseases and state-of-the art therapies in medicine.
  5. Even though the location is not within a hospital, telehealth nurses are still supporting and educating patients in a very designed and specific approach with very clear outcomes.
  6. Telehealth nurses get input and exposure to the business side and operations, growing their acumen in other areas.
  7. Being in telehealth expands one’s expertise because they work with a broader audience of patients and are forced to learn how to communicate with patients over the phone vs. side-by-side or in-person.

Various health systems are adopting telehealth practices because it provides convenient access for patients and focuses on increasing access and patient satisfaction. Telehealth nursing offers the potential to improve efficiency and convenience in our health care system as new delivery and payment models evolve.

I have been telehealth nursing for over six years and I truly believe nurses have an impact on patients and their caregivers. When a patient is first diagnosed with a chronic illness or terminal disease, sometimes our team is their first call. Our team works with purpose by listening to patients and educating them about what to expect throughout their therapeutic journey and providing counsel on properly taking medicine. As a Senior Nurse Manager at Lash Group, a part of AmerisourceBergen, I support the managers and nurses through compassionate communication, empowerment, and working together to ensure patient adherence.

Working in telehealth is exciting because each call is different and you never know what type of situation, question, or comment you will be presented. The utilization of your listening, critical thinking, and assessment skills are critical when it comes to supporting the patient.  As a telehealth nurse, your eyes become your ears and you are an expert at identifying even the subtle changes in a patient’s voice. Building rapport is also key. Once trust is established, the patient and the nurse are able to work through barriers together, whether it’s navigating through benefits, obtaining education, or supporting the patient through medication adherence.

Telehealth nurses have a positive impact on the lives of patients every day. For example, one time a patient called in to our program and was adamant about speaking to a manager. She stated she was newly diagnosed, had a lot of questions, and described that if it was not for her nurse, she would have never started on her medication. The nurse thoroughly explained the benefits, answered her questions, and walked her through the prescribing information. She was extremely thankful for the support that she received.

According to sources at the American Telemedicine Association, industry experts estimate that 50% of health care services will be provided by telehealth within the next five years, and the need for these nurses and health care professionals is going to continue to rise. Providing support and guidance to patients is the main role of nurses and telehealth has shown it can improve patients’ access to care and as a result, contribute to successful health care outcomes.

 

Sabrina McKoy

Sabrina McKoy

Sabrina L. McKoy is a Registered Nurse for Lash Group, a patient support services company and part of AmerisourceBergen. Currently, she is a Senior Nurse Manager responsible for a national team of remote-working nurse managers and telehealth nurse educators who support one of Lash Group's clinical patient adherence programs. Ms. McKoy has experience in hospital and research settings, as well as the pharmaceutical industry. And, she has held roles in quality improvement, management, and training. Ms McKoy works with purpose by not only supporting the patients in her adherence program, but also by empowering her team and collaborating with others to obtain successful patient outcomes. She is a graduate of North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing.
Sabrina McKoy

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