With the rise of COVID-19, telehealth visits to medical providers since March 2020 have skyrocketed. The available data showing this includes a report issued in July by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which “found that in April, nearly half (43.5%) of Medicare primary care visits were provided through telehealth compared with less than one percent (0.1%) in February before the” start of the coronavirus pandemic. Another report, issued in August by data and analytics company GlobalData and reported by Healthcare IT News, found that 79% of U.S. specialists “said that their use of telemedicine technology had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Illinois Association of Colleges of Nursing supports utilizing telehealth in order to care for patients, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read on for information about what telehealth is as well as its pros and cons.
What is Telehealth?
The Health Resources Services Administration describes telehealth as “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.”
According to eVisit, nurses who wish to practice telehealth do not always have to acquire certification but must comply with licensure regulations. All telehealth nurses must meet standards of care. Many nursing groups have also set specific telehealth standards.
Pros and Cons of Telehealth
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines a number of pros and cons with regards to utilizing telehealth. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, using telehealth to screen and care for patients with COVID-19, which can be highly contagious, has been invaluable. In addition, telehealth has increased access to care for those who have difficulty traveling to a healthcare provider, such as “those who live in very rural settings, older adults, and those with limited mobility.”
Despite the ways that telehealth has increased access to healthcare, there are still issues that need to be resolved. There can be Interstate licensure challenges with nurses who wish to practice telehealth. There are sometimes concerns by patients that the private information that they disclose during telehealth visits could be accessed by hackers as a result of weak security. Lastly, while telehealth is great to aid patients with non-emergency situations, there are times when in-person visits to primary care providers are necessary.
Illinois Association of Colleges of Nursing Supports Telehealth
At IACN, we support utilizing telehealth to administer care and encourage patients to utilize telehealth when appropriate and available. IACN also encourages nurses to examine the certification laws in their states to see what is needed to provide telehealth care. We strive to serve as an asset for those in need of a source for accurate information relating to the fields of nursing, healthcare, and higher education. For additional information about telehealth, feel free to contact us.