Telenursing is the application of information technology and telecommunications in the nursing field with the sole objective of providing quality health services. Telenursing is common in cases where the nurse and the patient work remotely. The technology has become popular in a majority of the countries due to numerous reasons. For instance the rise in the number of people suffering from chronic illnesses in the United States has prompted the nurses to look for alternative ways of helping the patients (Elizabeth, 2000). Besides, the need to cut down on medical cost has contributed to the growth of telenursing. Ernesater, Holmstrom, and Engstrom (2009) allege that telenursing has helped to enhance the quality of home care, particularly for the immobilized patients. In the United States, nurses use videoconferencing to help patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other chronic illnesses (Jerant, Azari, Martinez & Nesbitt, 2007). In spite of the numerous benefits of telenursing, the technology is fraught with regulatory, ethical and legal issues that might encumber its active application. For instance, most nations do not allow the international practice of telenursing. This paper will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of telenursing.
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Benefits of Telenursing
According to Ernesater et al. (2009), the establishment of telenursing has enhanced the management of chronic diseases. The introduction of telenursing has enabled the nurses to manage numerous chronic conditions concurrently. For instance, nurses can handle patients suffering from hypertension, chronic lung disease, and heart failure without having to hospitalize them. Today, a single nurse can serve at least 12 patients per day. Previously, a single nurse could only serve a maximum of seven patients per day (Elizabeth, 2000). Telenursing has resulted in a reduction in health cost for the patients. On the other hand, it enables the nurses to discover possible exacerbation of a health condition and respond to it in advance. Indeed, the cases of hospitalization continue to go down due to the application of telenursing.
Another benefit of telenursing is that it has helped to improve the quality of health services. The technology enables nurses to consult with one another, thus acquiring knowledge in how to improve their services. On one hand, telenursing serves as a source of vital information for nurses. On the other hand, it guarantees quality health services to the patients. One group of the patients that have significantly benefited from telenursing is those with wounds (Jerant et al., 2007). The nurses can use remote cameras to examine the wound and give recommendations on the appropriate course of treatment. Further, the nurses can make a regular follow-up to ensure that the patient recovers as quickly as possible. Jonsson and Willman (2008) claim that telenursing saves money and time for both the nurses and patients since they do not have to travel.
Telenursing guarantees the safety of patients. In many cases, patients lack adequate skills to cope with their health conditions after leaving the hospital (Jonsson & Willman, 2008). For instance, postoperative patients do not know how to tell if they are in the recovery course after the surgery. Hence, they might develop complications and fail to get urgent medical attention. Telenursing enables the postoperative patients to communicate with nurses on a regular basis and to update them on their progress. As a result, the nurses can detect when the patients are experiencing problems and respond before the problem gets severe.
Disadvantages of Telenursing
In spite of the numerous benefits of telenursing, the technology is faced with challenges that are associated with ethical issues, privacy, interoperability, patient satisfaction and consumer education. In telenursing, it is hard for the nurses to study the patient’s non-verbal cues like body language (Westrick & Dempski, 2009). Hence, the therapist relies on the information that patient volunteers. Additionally, it is hard for the nurses to ascertain that the caller is the person that they claim to be. Thus, it is hard to handle the issue of integrity in telenursing. Relying on the information that a caller provides may lead to making decisions that might be detrimental to both the nurse and the patient. Most consumers have limited knowledge about telenursing (Westrick & Dempski, 2009). As a result, it might be hard for the nurses to use the technology in many homes. Lack of adequate knowledge may lead to the patients not following the instruction issued via videoconferencing or telephone.
Westrick and Dempski (2009) hold that telenursing suffers from problems associated with depersonalization. Many patients do not believe that a nurse can examine and understand their health condition through a remote camera. The patients feel dissatisfied with the services and opt to visit a health care facility. Rose (2011) maintains that most patients express dissatisfaction with telenursing since it cannot conduct a comprehensive physical examination. For instance, it is hard to perform a palpation examination from a distance. Interoperability is a major drawback in telenursing. Today, there is a limited number of technological equipment that can be applied in the medical environment. Besides, most nurses lack the knowledge of the pertinent and immaterial technical details of the telenursing systems (Rose, 2011). As a result, it is hard for the nurses to exchange data with not only their colleagues but also patients. Apart from interoperability challenges, privacy concerns are shared in telenursing. The nurses are unable to guarantee the privacy of the patients’ records due to the number of personnel that access the telenursing system. Besides, the information shared between the nurse and the patient is liable to hacking. Rose (2011) claims that privacy concerns make the patients skeptical of telenursing, therefore affecting its effectiveness.
Telenursing is a valuable asset in the nursing field. The technology helps not only to improve the quality of health services but also minimize medical cost. Nevertheless, lack of mechanisms to warrant the privacy of the patient and the inability to handle the challenge of integrity thwart the use of telenursing systems. Currently, I am serving as a nurse at a local health center. My job entails making a follow-up on patients after they are discharged. In future, I might enroll for a job in telenursing. Enrollment in telenursing would save me money and time that I consume visiting patients in their homes. I would be able to deal with many patients within a short duration. Besides, it would give me a chance to liaise with other nurses and learn from them. The primary demerit of enrolling in telenursing job is that I would be faced with integrity issues. It would be hard to establish the validity of the patient, thus putting myself in a precarious position. Besides, I would lose personal touch with patients. Serving patients from a distance would deny me an opportunity to meet with them and establish a healthy relationship. Despite the cons associated with telenursing, I would contemplate enrolling as it guarantees not only the well-being of the patients but also nurses.
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Elizabeth, G. (2000). The domain of telenursing: Issues and prospects. Nursing Economics, 18(4), 201-220.
Ernesater, A., Holmstrom, I., & Engstrom, M. (2009). Telenurses’ experiences of working with computerized decision support: Supporting, inhibiting and quality improving. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 65(5), 1074-1083.
Jerant, A., Azari, R., Martinez, C., & Nesbitt, T. (2007). A randomized trial of telenursing to reduce hospitalization for heart failure: Patient-centered outcomes and nursing indicators. Home Health Care Services Quarterly, 22(1), 1-20.
Jonsson, A., & Willman, A. (2008). Implementation of telenursing within home health care. Telemedicine and e-Health, 14(10), 1057-1062.
Rose, K. (2011). Telenursing an emerging field. International Journal of Nursing Education, 3(2), 52-55.
Westrick, S., & Dempski, K. (2009). Essentials of nursing law and ethics. London: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.