Why is Telehealth Nursing on the Rise?

Telehealth Nursing

The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything about how we access healthcare. With hospitals overwhelmed and people afraid to leave home, telehealth rapidly became the new normal way to see a doctor or nurse. While telemedicine has been around for years, the pandemic seemingly propelled its adoption into the mainstream overnight.

As clinics and hospitals lifted restrictions, many assumed telehealth visits would decline. But something unexpected happened—patients kept choosing virtual care even when in-person was an option again. It turns out people liked seeing a provider without leaving their couch. 

The convenience and flexibility of telehealth have proven hugely popular, and its use continues to grow month after month. Telehealth nursing is gaining prominence as a specialized field with dedicated roles, technologies, and ways of practicing. Its rapid growth shows no signs of stopping. Is telehealth the future of nursing? Let us find out. 

What Is Telehealth Nursing?

Demand for remote healthcare services has increased substantially in recent years, driven largely by factors like the COVID-19 pandemic. This shift has highlighted the need for virtual consultations and remote patient monitoring. As a result, the global telehealth market is projected to grow rapidly at a CAGR of 24.3% through 2030. Nursing practice has also adapted to incorporate telehealth modalities.

Telehealth nursing involves Registered Nurses (RNs) utilizing telecommunication technologies like video calls, phone calls, email, and text messaging to provide healthcare services to patients remotely. 

Telehealth nurses can assist patients with minor medical issues over digital channels. They can determine whether a patient needs to seek emergency care, schedule an in-person doctor’s appointment, or address their needs without further intervention. 

This form of nursing helps to expand access to care while reducing the unnecessary use of emergent services. It benefits both patients through more convenience and the broader healthcare system through increased efficiency.

Industry experts believe that terms like telehealth nursing, nursing telepractice, and telehealth in nursing all refer broadly to the application of remote technologies within nursing care delivery. Telehealth nurses perform many traditional nursing functions through digital means to evaluate, educate, and monitor patients from afar.

Some of the specific roles of telehealth nurses include scheduling appointments, referring patients to specialists as needed, and providing remote medical education and counseling. They also monitor vitals, collect health data digitally, and assist with pre- and post-surgical care. Additionally, they support primary care needs and aid in triaging emergency cases.

Telehealth nurses are generally based in private medical offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, telephone call centers, and emergency response coordination hubs.

How to Become a Telehealth Nurse?

1. Research Nursing Programs 

Before choosing a nursing program, take time to research your options. Consider what degree and career path best aligns with your goals. Popular choices include associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in nursing.

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides strong preparation for those interested in telehealth nursing. A BSN allows you to sit for the nursing licensure exam and enter clinical practice. It also cultivates wider career opportunities down the road.

Another fast-track option is online ABSN programs for non-nurses. Accelerated BSN programs offer a streamlined path to complete a traditional four-year degree in 12-24 months. 

However, due to their compressed schedule, they require intensive focus and commitment. According to Holy Family University, ABSN graduates emerge ready to excel as compassionate and skilled caregivers.

When choosing a nursing program, consider key factors such as accreditation, admission standards, and start dates. Also, take into account location and format options, pass rates on licensing exams, and the quality of skills training and clinical experiences. 

Researching these elements can help you identify the best fit for your goals and situation. With diligent planning, you’ll be well-positioned to apply and begin your nursing career.

2. Succeeding on the NCLEX Exam

Upon completing an accelerated BSN program, one key step to beginning a telehealth nurse career is obtaining RN licensure by passing the NCLEX exam. The NCLEX comprehensively evaluates a nurse’s ability to make sound clinical judgments and prioritize patient needs. Dedicate adequate time and effort towards exam preparation.

The CSP Global accelerated nursing curriculum builds students’ knowledge and skills to help them succeed on the NCLEX. 

Upon passing the exam and fulfilling additional state requirements, graduates will have earned their registered nurse license and be ready to practice. The license signifies that a nurse has proven their competency for safe, effective patient care at the entry level. Gaining these credentials opens the door to numerous opportunities within telehealth and other areas of nursing.

3. Gain Bedside Nursing Experience

For those interested in a career as a telehealth nurse, it’s common to wonder about the value of also gaining bedside nursing experience. The purpose is straightforward – telehealth nursing roles typically require having worked directly with patients previously.

Telehealth nurses provide remote consultations in various healthcare contexts, such as clinics, hospitals, and public health. To advise competently in these settings, one must understand how care is delivered firsthand. 

4. Making the Move to Telehealth Nursing

With an RN and hands-on nursing experience under your belt, the next step is pursuing opportunities in telehealth nursing. The clinical knowledge and skills obtained from bedside roles adequately prepare one to deliver remote care. This is the point of transitioning focus towards applications for specialty-aligned telehealth positions.

While no telehealth-specific certification exists, seeking credentialing can further bolster a candidate’s resume. 

Telehealth Nurse Salary 

According to recent data, registered nurses working in telehealth earn higher salaries on average than those working in traditional settings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary for all registered nurses was $81,220 in 2021. However, sources that track telehealth nurse pay specifically report higher earnings.

Research from sites like Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter indicates that telehealth nurses earn average annual salaries between $74,000 and over $100,000. This higher pay may reflect the specialized skill set and technology expertise needed to deliver care remotely. Experience level also impacts telehealth nurse compensation.

More Years Of Experience, Higher Pay

According to some salary reports, entry-level telehealth nurses with 1-4 years of experience typically earn around $33 per hour. Nurses further along in their careers see higher hourly wages. 

Those under 5-9 years average about $30 per hour. Telehealth nurses with 10-19 years of experience make approximately $29.49 hourly. The most experienced nurses, with 20+ years, earn around $37 per hour on average.

Telehealth Nursing Trends

Rise in Virtual Nursing Opportunities

Before the pandemic, virtual nursing was rarely used outside of traditional telephone-based roles. However, hospitals began leveraging virtual nurses during surges to complete basic but important tasks remotely. Intakes, discharges, documentation, and other routine work were outsourced, freeing in-person staff for hands-on care.

Interest has accelerated as telehealth’s potential is increasingly recognized. Organizations are discovering new ways to incorporate virtual care across nursing workflows. Some applications now require dedicated virtual support beyond periodic flexible assistance. 

As a result, full-time virtual nursing positions are being established within some care teams using enabling technologies. Integrated hardware and software solutions can facilitate seamless remote and on-site staff collaboration.

Expanding Virtual Nursing Options

Increased telehealth investments during the pandemic have created new virtual nursing workflows and use cases.

Some simple tasks, such as intakes, discharges, and routine education, can now be performed virtually. Direct patient care still requires in-person interaction. Meanwhile, remote technologies enable high-skill nursing tasks previously only possible in person.

Electronic medical records now commonly support virtual rounding, where nurses check in on patients remotely. Additionally, many hospitals have installed real-time remote patient monitoring systems in rooms. Nurses can communicate with and observe data from connected devices.

This remote monitoring, sometimes called virtual sitter services, has furthered the hospital-at-home model. Home monitoring technology allows patients to be discharged earlier while a virtual nurse oversees their recovery remotely. Follow-up care can also occur without trips back to the hospital.

FAQs

What are the 4 P’s of telehealth nursing?

The Four Ps of Telehealth Nursing are planning, preparing, providing, and performance evaluation. These components were identified, developed, and assessed using a modified Delphi technique to establish telehealth competencies.

What is telehealth?

Telehealth delivers healthcare services and public health initiatives through information and communication technologies. This makes it easier for patients to receive medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, education, care management, and self-management.

How many hospitals use telehealth?

Almost 76 percent of U.S. hospitals use video and other technologies to connect with patients and consult practitioners remotely. Almost all state Medicaid programs and many private insurers offer some form of telehealth service coverage.

In summary, as technologies improve and telehealth options multiply, you can expect to see even more innovative ways that nurses can expand access to care digitally. 

With dedicated training and credentials, those entering the nursing profession now have an exciting opportunity to become specialists in this rapidly developing field. The outlook for telehealth nursing careers looks bright indeed.

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