Next up in the nursing news this week is a look at telehealth programs and the type of research done to date supporting its use. I found this article from the Journal of Medical Internet Research. It proposes that current research supporting telehealth programs does not actually support its use as strongly as people think.

Short-Term Studies Not Good Enough

Doctor-Nurse-Rural-Telehealth-TabletThe authors of the study say that the existing research is usually based on short-term studies based on limited programs in place in small areas. They contend that there is a need for a much longer term approach to looking telehealth and telemedicine in healthcare to make sure it truly had the cost benefits touted while still safely managing patient care.

This makes sense when you think of it. Most of the research we see compare short-term costs and savings while using telehealth resources in the near future. There are many other factors affecting telehealth efficacy including patient comfort and familiarity with technology in general and the specific technological devices over which the telehealth services are delivered.

Patients Are Not All Tech-Savvy

If a patient is not very comfortable with the use of a computer or tablet device, they may not be as engaged in the patient to healthcare provider communication that is needed to make such tools effective to begin with. Because of this tech-comfort variability between individual patients, it becomes something else that needs to be assessed before we can determine if a personal telehealth program would work for that patient.

This new education and assessment will likely fall to the nurses to do and makes it another skill related to our communication and education roles as nurses. Consider this and ask patients what their comfort level with technology and their healthcare. You may be developing a new assessment for the patient of the future.

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Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Toxic Water Testing by Nurses and Episode 388.

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