Telehealth is a constantly evolving system in the modern world. It encompasses the use of technology to enhance the provision of healthcare more effectively and efficiently. Telehealth has found its use in many different settings ranging from hospitals to patients’ residential places. Thanks to telehealth, patients can now enjoy specialized medical care within the comfort of their homes via the use of computers, telephones, and other monitoring equipment.
In a classic preview of the advantages and functionality of Telehealth technology, the case of Mrs. C, a patient suffering from Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and hypertension fits as an example. Her condition has resulted in recurrent episodes of atrial fibrillations, which has led to frequent hospitalization. With the advent of telehealth technology, she can benefit from a home health monitoring system. This system records and transmits patients’ vital signs information to a remote nurse. At some point, the system detects low oxygen saturation, and the remote nurse can pick the sign p. The nurse then calls Mrs. C’s physician, who organizes for the latter’s emergency check, whereby she is diagnosed with pulmonary embolism.
Possible Alternative Outcomes
Mrs. C’s health condition is a critical case that requires close monitoring. If the telemonitoring home system had not been in place, the results of her case would be different. Perhaps, her serious state of health would have culminated into death. Alternatively, if the emboli were minimal, it would likely run a silent course and travel either to her heart or to the brain, resulting in devastating conditions, such as myocardial infarction or stroke (Di Nisio, van Es, & Büller, 2016). However, in her case, she was closely monitored. This means that a nurse would have to check on her every two days. Mrs. C could have developed the complications shortly after one of such visits, and her situation would have worsened. A delay in the response to Mrs. C’s emergency would be inevitable, and hence, she would die. Besides, a family physician’s routine visit would not depict the situation of the patient in the absence of real-time data provided by the telemonitoring system. The chances of Mrs. C’s condition worsening without close medical attention are very high, thus putting her health at a higher risk.
Cost Implications of Home Telemonitoring
The cost implications of telehealth are vast but fruitful in the long run. Under the preexisting state of health care, hospital-based care remains the gold standard for the management of chronic conditions and terminal illnesses. In clinical practice, hospital-based care has had its fair share of significant cost challenges. However, with the advent of telehealth systems and telemonitoring technology, some of the costs that are vibrant and exaggerated, such as travel costs, are effectively phased out.
In the transition from hospital-bedside care to home telemonitoring, a notable shift in cost implications is evident. The initial expenditure in the cost of setting up the telemonitoring system is inevitable. Both hardware and software installation incurs costs for the telemonitoring system to get working. A summation of all the expenditures incurred in purchasing, setting up, as well as maintaining an efficient telemonitoring system must be factored in as an initial cost. The initial cost is inevitably hefty. However, a broader perspective will indicate that some of the expenses are one-time incurrences, such as the purchase of the machines and installation (Heida, Dijkstra, Muller Kobold, Rossen, Kindermann, Kokke, & Hummel, 2018). Therefore, a significant reduction in expenses is experienced in the long run. Moreover, the travel charges for the nurse following up on the patient must be factored in as an expense.
However, money is spared by using home telemonitoring systems. Notably, the telemonitoring system will be in place for a long time, thus eliminating the daily costs of monitoring the system. Besides, the expense of travel costs for the visiting nurse and family physician is significantly reduced. With telemonitoring, the need for healthcare providers paying routine visits is eliminated. The majority of savings, however, come from the reduction of hospital bed charges. Since the patients are managed from their residences, no charges for admission and hospital stay are incurred.
Advantages and Disadvantages: Patient’s Perspective
Telehealth presents significant pros and cons. The home-based monitoring system and patient care are advantageous to the patient in several ways. For instance, it enables patients to receive healthcare services remotely, that is, at the comfort of their homes. The hospital environment can be depressing to some people, and home-based management is more effective in their situation. Secondly, the patient incurs significantly reduced costs with telehealth. Notably, they do not have to travel to the hospital as frequently for checkups or even pay for nurses to come by regularly. They also do not incur the cost of frequent hospitalizations. Thirdly, the reduced visits to the hospital and admissions reduce the chances of the patient contracting nosocomial infections (Heida et al., 2018). The patient also enjoys faster delivery of services accorded by telehealth and telenursing. Nurses using telenursing services can accord top-level care to their patients since they monitor the patient’s vital signs in real-time. Besides, with the advent of telehealth, health prevention practices are advocated for rather than focusing on the treatment of diseases.
The use of telehealth services can prove challenging for patients. Notably, there is reduced patient-doctor contact, which reduces the time spent on physical examination. Moreover, the patient cannot effectively and frequently discuss the progress of their health with the caregiver because of the reduced contact time (Taylor, Coates, Brewster, Mountain, Wessels, & Hawley, 2015). Additionally, purchasing the equipment required for telehealth services is costly for some patients, thus rendering it unaffordable and inaccessible to them.
Advantages and Disadvantages: Nurse’s Perspective
Telenursing and telehealth services are advantageous to the nurses. First, telehealth services increase the number of patients attended to. The services also assist in the prompt management of health emergencies. Notably, nurses get to monitor the progress and vital signs of their patients remotely. In addition, telehealth systems help eliminate the inconvenience of having to travel to see patients. Additionally, nurses attend to multiple patients remotely, thus widening their scope of service delivery. Since telehealth renders it easy and convenient for patients to access healthcare services, many people are opting for it, thereby increasing the number of people seeking healthcare services. Nurses, therefore, enjoy dispensing services to more clients (Taylor et al., 2015). In contrast, telehealth services are challenging in that they require up-to-date technology to operate. The patient may not be conversant with such, thereby reducing efficiency. Cost implications may also arise since insurance companies are yet to fully assimilate the idea of telehealth systems.
Di Nisio, M., van Es, N., & Büller, H. R. (2016). Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. The Lancet, 388(10063), 3060-3073. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140673616305141
Heida, A., Dijkstra, A., Muller Kobold, A., Rossen, J. W., Kindermann, A., Kokke, F., & Hummel, T. (2018). Efficacy of home telemonitoring versus conventional follow-up: a randomized controlled trial among teenagers with inflammatory bowel disease. Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis, 12(4), 432-441. https://academic.oup.com/ecco-jcc/article/12/4/432/4710333
Taylor, J., Coates, E., Brewster, L., Mountain, G., Wessels, B., & Hawley, M. S. (2015). Examining the use of telehealth in community nursing: identifying the factors affecting frontline staff acceptance and telehealth adoption. Journal of advanced nursing, 71(2), 326-337. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jan.12480