Normal ain’t what it used to be. In the old days, making the daily trek to the office was a part of professional life for nurse practitioners and all medical providers. Waiting rooms were furnished with toys and chairs to make patients comfortable. Televisions displayed Judge Judy or HouseHunters to make the wait time pass in entertainment. However, society has come to an intersection of rapidly emerging communication technologies and an evolving viewpoint of those technologies in relation to health care. As a result, Telehealth services are now a viable, sustainable option for Nurse Practitioners to provide health care to their patients.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is the use of digital technology and virtual communication to remotely provide and access health services. This includes using any one or a combination of the following methods to assess, manage and treat patients: telephone/mobile communications, video calls, web-based patient portals, emails, instant messaging, automated scheduling, and online appointment booking.
What are the benefits?
Telehealth can help NPs administer clinical services and interact with patients via Telehealth visits. It can also improve efficiency by enabling NPs to store data such as exam notes, history, test results, X-rays, or other files. It also assists with streamlining patient booking, automating payment processing, tracking practice metrics, and expanding healthcare operations.
By using technology to coordinate care for their patients, NPs can improve quality and overcome geographic barriers to health care access. They can provide cost-effective care for a larger patient base.
Telehealth services aren’t a new concept. As old as the invention of the telephone is the option for medical providers to provide some form of remote health care services. However, it was rarely used by patients as a consistent means to access medical care. Even in recent history, despite the invention of new technologies to support the convenience of Telehealth usage, the adoption of these services was largely a future state to be achieved.
Now, Covid-19 has shifted the meaning of normal on several levels, changing Americans’ perception of Telehealth. Gone are the days when talking with a health care provider required an in-person visit. The pandemic has transformed what is standard for health care interaction. CHG Healthcare reports that in 2021, the percentage of patients utilizing virtual healthcare services represented a 420% increase over the percentage of patients using virtual healthcare in 2019. The majority of these patients indicate the likeliness of continuing to use virtual healthcare in the future.
More specifically, Covid-19 has affected how care is provided for mental health needs as well. Patients can now sit on their own couch at home when consulting with Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners.
Janet Zhu, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, led in authoring a study entitled “Trends In Outpatient Mental Health Services Use Before And During The COVID-19 Pandemic” which appeared in the April 2022 issue of Health Affairs. Zhu said in an accompanying news release “Our study suggests that telehealth services for mental health counseling expanded significantly and [are] likely to stay.”
In this age of shifting trends and technology, establish your own new normal. Given the growing popularity of Telehealth services and the benefits to patients and nurse practitioners, now is the prime opportunity to leave your medical program and launch your private practice as a Nurse Practitioner. Silver Leaf PMS is here to help you.
From EHR to communications to website development and everything in between, we have the knowledge and experience to get you started in your practice. Schedule a free consultation today.