Telehealth: Promise or Peril?
in response to topic Telehealth: Promise or Peril? (September 30, 2001)
Thank you for the series of articles describing telehealth trends in nursing and health care. In our busy days of practice, trends and advances often go unnoticed.
Nursing has always been a communication-based profession. The Overview to this topic on Telehealth defines telehealth as the use of electronic communication networks to transmit data or information that focuses on health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, consultation, education and/or therapy. Given this definition, nursing has been using telehealth at least since the invention of the telephone. For years nurses have responded to friends, neighbors and relatives who call asking for advice or an educated, listening ear about a problem; and for many years we have also used the telephone to communicate with our patients.
As nurses we know that expert care is not evenly distributed across this great land. Telehealth is a way to enable patients who cannot come to health care centers, due to distance or other constraining factors, to access appropriate health care. Effective guidelines related to telehealth can maximize the outcomes of telehealth care. Nursing has a responsibility to become involved in developing the guidelines, regulations and processes that will facilitate telehealth nursing. Nurses also have a responsibility to learn to use these telehealth technologies as they develop. As nurses we long ago learned how to use the telephone to help care for patients. Today we can, and must, become advocates of this technology. We must develop processes and learn to use the most sophisticated technology available so as to positively impact our nation's health care goals.
St. Charles, MO