Let me Telehealth you Something! Student Editorial

HIMSS and PCHAlliance Join Together in Responding to FCC Rural Telehealth Proposed Rule

Citation: Trombley, E. (2023). Let me telehealth you something!. Student Editorial. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 26(3).

In the post-pandemic world, going to the doctor’s office or emergency room is often debatable. Often, we ask ourselves, “Should I go, or should I just wait it out?”. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, taking care of our health has been on the backburner. Individuals with chronic conditions declined in health, while others did not receive the care they needed for undiagnosed conditions. The public was and still is very fearful of stepping out into the world simply to go get a check-up or an annual visit with their primary physician. Now, emergency rooms are consistently overcrowded with patients, nurses are short-staffed, and the world just seems “sicker”.

As nurses, we do whatever it takes to avoid going to the doctors or emergency room because we anticipate the inevitable. We know we will wait forever, the nurses are understaffed, and there will be many others who need care before we do. When making my routine healthcare appointments last month, I was complaining about these negative factors to my co-worker Scott. I kept asking why it was taking so long to get routine appointments! He looked at me in disbelief and stated, “Let me telehealth you something!”. Being a practicing nurse, I of course knew what telehealth was, but was always reluctant to have an actual telehealth visit. As nurses we know that physical assessments are vital to proper patient care. With a telehealth visit, the physical examination is limited and there are regulatory and industry barriers that can limit care. Would I truly get the proper care I needed if I utilized telemedicine?

Scott did nothing but glorify everything about telehealth. He advised this was great for schedule flexibility, continuity of care, and no-wait appointment times. As a busy mother of three, this seemed wildly appealing. I decided that for my next endocrinology follow-up appointment I would give it a shot. I went online and easily scheduled the visit with the time and date that worked well with my unforgiving schedule. There was an easy-to-understand instruction guide on how to get into the appointment right off a smartphone or tablet. I right away appreciated the ease of being able to schedule an appointment that worked for my schedule while not having to wait on hold or talk to an automated system with too many prompts to count.

It was appointment day, and it was a busy day. With one child in elementary school and two others in preschool, I constantly play the role of a chauffeur. I was on my way home, with no time to shower, still in my pajamas ten minutes before my appointment. I quickly sat down at the table and logged in. In seconds my physician popped on the screen, and we began our appointment. Since this was a follow-up, we got right down to business about my thyroid health, lab results, and recent ultrasound. I was at ease, able to talk openly, and had all my questions and concerns addressed. This was too easy, and I knew immediately I would use telehealth time and time again after this impressive encounter.

Now, I often use telehealth visits not only for myself, but for my children. I find the flexibility and convenience paramount to any in-person office visit. I now am not driving three children who are sick back and forth to a doctor’s office while sitting in a waiting room. Instead, I am in the comfort of my home not spreading any more germs than need be. It is a brilliant advance in healthcare technology and I am honestly extremely troubled that I did not use it sooner. Now I stand firmly with my co-worker Scott and cannot wait to “telehealth you something!”.

Editorial Summary

Over the past decade, audio and video communication has been a major technological advance within the healthcare industry. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare delivery has had to adapt and change. One of the largest ways in which healthcare delivery has moved into the virtual world is telehealth. Telehealth is, sometimes referred to as telemedicine, telecare, or e-care, can be described as healthcare delivery through audio or audio/video telecommunication over a distance (Bastable, 2021, p. 608). Telehealth offers a broad category of virtual services that go far beyond care or education such as electronic records, remote patient monitoring, and financial components (Bastable, 2021, p. 608). Since the pandemic, social distancing has become one of the largest ways in which healthcare organizations can minimize the contraction of illnesses and viruses. Due to this factor, telehealth has become an essential method for care delivery. Some healthcare organizations were previously providing telehealth services or have recently begun utilizing them to care for patients as their patient population has become more comfortable with virtual communication and the use of technology.

Research has shown that clinicians and administrators agree that telehealth is “here to stay,” and will likely maintain widespread use and refinement beyond rural areas (Watts et al., 2021). A recent study was concluded with eleven participants who recounted their telehealth experiences and reported feeling satisfied, comfortable, and confident with the sessions (Khan et al., 2022). Participants also highlighted that telehealth was beneficial as it reduced commuting time, COVID-19 exposure, and fatigue from travel, and allowed caregiver participation particularly during COVID (Khan et al., 2022). Overall, telehealth provides patients with care that is convenient, regardless of their current health status. Patients are more likely to attend follow-up visits without the demanding aspects of travel and virus exposure.

Online Journal of Nursing Informatics

Powered by the HIMSS Foundation and the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Community, the Online Journal of Nursing Informatics is a free, international, peer reviewed publication that is published three times a year and supports all functional areas of nursing informatics.

Read the Latest Edition

Bastable, S. B. (2021). Nurse as Educator: Principle of teaching and learning for nursing practice (6th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Khan, M., Manduchi, B., Rodriguez, V. (2022) Exploring patient experiences with a telehealth approach for the PRO-ACTIVE trial intervention in head and neck cancer patients. BMC Health Service Research, 22, 1218.

Allen Watts, K., Malone, E., Dionne-Odom, J. N., McCammon, S., Currie, E., Hicks, J., Tucker, R. O., Wallace, E., Elk, R., & Bakitas, M. (2021). Can you hear me now? Improving palliative care access through telehealth. Research in Nursing & Health, 44(1), 226–237.

Author Bio

My name is Erica Trombley and I am currently in the Masters of Nursing Education program at Baker College. My ultimate goal is to one day become a nurse educator to inspire new student nurses through hands on learning. I am the mother of three amazing girls under the age of five, with another beautiful girl on the way with my loving partner Bruce. Completing nursing school while raising a family has been nothing short of challenging, however extremely rewarding. Showing my three daughters that any goal can be reached when you put your best effort forward is one lesson this educational journey has provided my family. I am inspired by helping anyone I can and will continue to do so within my community and throughout my nursing career. I am addicted to learning and furthering my education and cannot wait to complete my journey in obtaining a master's degree in nursing education.