What is a Telenursing?
Telenursing stands for applications of telecommunications and digital technology in delivering care and treatment services in an instance where distance is evident between the care giver and the patient or many care givers and patients (McKnight, 2012). According to Atkin and Barrett (2012), telenursing forms a part of telehealth, which provides numerous meeting points with other health care and non-healthcare applications, for example, digital systems for making diagnosis, assessment, consultations and monitoring of the patient. Effken and Abbot (2009) state that telenursing means making a significant transformation in the extent that patients access care services, including how care givers provide the care services. Today, the provision of drugs, making assessments, filling of charts, writing prescriptions, or responding to patient inquiries have been transformed by the onset of new technology (Atkin & Barrett, 2012; Hebda & Czar, 2013). Besides, regardless of the benefits that telenursing offers in the care delivery process and profession, such as the ability to reach many patients instantly and across geographical boundaries, it is characterized by ethical and legal factors concerning its applications in the delivery of care services.
The current paper seeks to establish whether telenursing is fit for a future career. It presents the advantages and disadvantages of telenursing from the perspective of an employee and a patient receiving the care, which includes the ethical and legal issues associated with the implementation of telenursing.
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The paper presents a conclusion of the findings, which entails a description of the current situation. Furthermore, this paper presents a recommendation regarding telenursing in caring for patents in a health care organization and whether the career in telenursing would or would not fit with my career objectives and life situation upon graduating from Chamerlain.
Advantages of Telenursing
Telenursing has several advantages to employees and patients receiving care. In particular, telenursing makes the work easier for care givers to provide care across geographical boundaries, especially to patients who would not access the care and treatment. McKnight (2012) mentions that distance has always been a significant problem to professionals in the health care industry. They are required to cover the needs of geographically dispersed individuals, which may be a challenging process. However, the recent transformation in health care industry, as a result of the onset of technology, many health care providers are eager to reach these areas that would be difficult to get to without the recent technology. According to McKnight (2012), it is with technology that people, who receive limited care services, such as in the rural areas, manage to enjoy timely and efficient care services. These rural areas are characterized by poor infrastructure, poverty and inadequate health care services. Besides, many people living in the rural areas require constant care, assessment and treatment, which require ongoing visitations by expert care givers. In this regard, telenursing helps to avert the challenge of traveling long distances to deliver medications or make diagnosis for both the care giver and the patient, therefore, ascertaining that many people in the rural areas access quality care, regardless of their geographical locations (Effken & Abbot, 2009).
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Telenursing has also led to a reduction of costs of healthcare, which includes boosting health care efficiency, for example, through advanced storage and quick retrieval of drug files. It is with telenursing that health care professionals can store and access patient data, including background information, diagnosis and illness in a timely manner (Effken & Abbot, 2009). This advantage has led to the improvement in managing chronic illnesses, such as heart diseases or diabetes that need constant management even after the patient leaves the hospital setting. McKnight (2012) emphasizes the point that health care professionals end up spending little time to access patients without the need to travel from one point to another, much more by sharing data collaboratively and interprofessionally. This is done, taking into consideration that telenursing entails the use of mobile phones, the internet and other medical applications and networks for the consultation purposes (McKnight, 2012). Nurses can discuss and interact with health care providers via network enabled platforms and solve problems related to patient assessment and drug administrations.
Most of all, telenursing has solved the problem of shortage of health care professionals in various locations or countries. The subject of unavailability of health care providers is a common problem, especially in the developing worlds. Many healthcare centers and organizations lack care givers, nurses and medical doctors, which leads to increased mortality rates and comorbidities. Many patients are forced to travel to foreign countries or to distant locations to access professional services, which are attributed to incurring high costs of traveling, as well as accommodation and care services. According to Effken and Abbot (2009), telenursing has made it easier for health care institutions, experiencing a low number of health care providers; there is now a possibility to provide remote access to professionals and care givers from other facilities with the help of video conferencing. It is now easier to have remote multidisciplinary meetings and trainings, electronic transfer of data files, materials and information, such as patient medical records and vital signs data, which has boosted remote assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients, including meeting with families to discuss home care before discharging the patients (Atkin & Barrett, 2012).
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Disadvantages of Telenursing
Regardless of the invaluable advantages of telenursing, it is apparent that there are several disadvantages, which include technological failures, costs and legal/ethical problems related to privacy, confidentiality and safety issues. According to de Veer, Fleuren, Bekkema, and Francke (2011), technology is bound to errors and undesirable results, especially with technological failures. Today, according to McKnight (2012), millions of health care organizations make use of technological devices to make assessments, diagnosis and treatment of patients, which shows that errors are expected. The actual benefits of technology may not be reached if technology is working poorly, which may also be related to failure to handle the technology devices appropriately. Most of all, if some technological devices are not properly and regularly maintained, they are prone to errors and malfunction.
It is clear that technology is expensive to install and maintain for both the employee and the health care service users. Health care organizations must incur high costs of procuring technological devices, materials and tools before a device or application is functional in the setting. According to de Veer et al. (2011), health care organizations must set aside financial input for training the health care professionals on how to use the technological devices to store or retrieve health care information. This challenge is also common for the patient, who, in many occasions, cannot afford the cost of health care let alone the technological devices, such as internet enabled phones or video and teleconferencing devices. It is also expensive to install complementary services, such as internet services, which may be scarce or expensive in developing worlds and in the rural areas (de Veer et al., 2011).
Most of all, the debate of telenursing is characterized by legal and ethical problems. McKnight (2012) points out that telenursing allows care givers to access data and information of the patients remotely, such as demographic data, medical data, family history, diagnosis information and illness. Doctors and nurses can gain access to patient information any time from any location, which contravenes the privacy and confidentiality rights of a patient. Technology allows users to use access, share patient data from one point to another, mainly by using the internet. This is also tagged along with various platforms that can track, save and retrieve user activities, such as time of access or internet provider. Besides, these platforms can be programmed to record patient’s profile information, founded on the information that the patient is searching for, on health care sites or chat groups, in addition to the buying history (Effken & Abbot, 2009). Therefore, the patient’s data records are readily available, which means that their safety, privacy and confidentiality, as far as ethical and legal issues are concerned, is not safeguarded.
It is apparent that telenursing is invaluable in the health care industry. Technology helps to improve quality care and management of patients, which includes averting the problem of access of care services in remote areas. Since the introduction of technology in the nursing industry, many patients have gained access to care and treatment, regardless of the unavailability of health care providers or geographical distances. This is characterized by a reduction in costs of traveling to distant health care centers for treatment and care, including management of chronic illnesses, such as heart diseases or diabetes. However, patients and care givers can both enjoy the benefits of telenursing if the disadvantages can be managed, such as the negative outcomes of technology in nursing and legal/ethical considerations highlighted.
It is recommended that health care organizations must boost the efficiency of devices, including maintenance to boost service delivery and functionality. This includes partnering with device manufacturers and the government to regulate the cost of using these healthcare devices, which includes complementary services, such as the Internet and mobile devices. Besides, health care organizations must create systems that will ensure that patient’s data and information are safeguarded to ascertain privacy and confidentiality. This entails use of encrypting technology, such as passwords and anonymity setting tools and software.
Finally, it is a good choice to apply for the job in the agency that installs telemonitoring equipment in homes, as advised by Tomika. This is because nursing is developing every new day. Besides, nursing is offering new and viable opportunities for professional care givers. With the five years experience, it is possible to secure a position in the agency. Most of all, technology is soon taking center stage in nursing care. Therefore, this job opportunity will add value to my experience, which entails skillfulness in managing patients by using modern technology. However, the technological challenges, including ethical and legal issues may pose significant problems at the agency, such as technological failures and complexity and the ways to safeguard patient’s personal privacy and confidentiality.