The hospital that I currently work for piloted the use of iPhones in addition to our work station on wheels (WoW). We can use this iPhone technology for charting simple nursing interventions, receive STAT orders and discharge orders, and communicate with our colleagues through texting. Our WoWs enable us to do “secure texting” to a physician, some physicians prefer the secure texting technology some don’t, but surely there are times that the answering service may fail to page them in a timely manner and the secure texting technology becomes very useful. As nurses, we can see through our WoWs as soon as the physician reads the text message, that way we know they are aware. This technology saves us some precious time we spend on the phone waiting on hold just to page a physician for orders, condition and/or results. Our hospital also offers telehealth services especially for those who are likely to be readmitted due to chronic diseases. We mostly see a telehealth order for a patient with cardiac issues.
Risks and benefits
The biggest threat that I believe healthcare technology is at risk for is privacy. According to Chaet, Clearfield, Sabin and Skimming (2017), privacy and confidentiality are just “as important in the context of telehealth and telemedicine as in hospital and office settings” (p. 1138). I surmise, organizations providing this type of technology in healthcare have an incredible security system in place. The secure texting technology, we are instructed not to use full names, instead, we use room numbers of the patients.
The biggest benefit of the use of telehealth and mobile devices for healthcare is accessibility. Use of the iPhone technology in our hospital is quick and easy to navigate, we can get in touch with virtually anybody logged in for that shift in the whole hospital. From a distance, telehealth helps those patients who are unable to manage their chronic illnesses very well.
Trends in healthcare technology
The most promising healthcare technology to me is virtual visits, mobile health, telehealth, and telemedicine technology. One can get in touch with a healthcare provider as long as one has a smartphone and internet access. It could provide access to so many more patients in need of healthcare that resides in rural areas or have no means to transport themselves to the physician’s office. It could save time and money for patients as we all know healthcare can get expensive very easily and very fast. According to Abuhaimidd, Meetoo and Rylance (2018), technology in healthcare with the use of mobile devices can “truly offer the potential to promote healthcare management and health behaviour change outside formal clinical settings” (p. 1176). This does not take away the significance of having a physical visit with a physician, those visits are intended for more complicated health issues, but I believe this technology has potential to truly help those with chronic illnesses to be able to manage their health on their own, make them accountable for their own wellbeing, patients can share data, interact with clinicians over a mobile device instead of having to go to the doctor’s office.
According to Mastrian and McGonigle (2017), nurses who participate in telehealth must be “licensed to practice in all of the states in which they provide telehealth services by directly interacting with patients” (p. 381). This can be challenging as states have different rules and regulations regarding licensure, continuing education requirements are different as well as fees and renewal process.
Abuhaimid, H. A., Meetoo, D., & Rylance, R. (2018). Health care in a technological world. British Journal of Nursing, 27(20). 1172-1177.
Barreto, E. A., Cohen, A. B., Donelan, K., Estrada, J. J., Michael, C., Schwamm, L. H., … Wozniak, J. (2019). Patient and clinician experiences with telehealth for patient follow-up care. American Journal of Managed Care, 25(1), 40-44.
Chaet, D., Clearfield, R., Sabin, J. E., & Skimming, K. (2017). Ethical practice in telehealth and telemedicine. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 32(10), 1136-1140.
Mastrian, K. G., & McGonigle, D. (2017). Nursing informatics and the foundation of knowledge (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.