Telemedicine in Primary Care

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As primary healthcare continues to evolve, it’s not just the appearance and goals of that aspect of the industry that are shifting. It’s also the location.

In today’s world, you can do just about anything remotely — shop, work, attend meetings — and that list now includes a healthcare visit.

With the development of telemedicine in primary care, medical professionals ranging from primary care doctors to physician assistants (PAs) to nurse practitioners (NPs) are able to treat patients remotely and play important roles in implementing this innovative technology.

If you’re interested in learning how you can implement telemedicine in your nursing career, here’s a look at how the primary care visit of the future could look and how NPs may help realize the full potential of telemedicine.

What is the primary care visit of the future?

Today, the majority of primary care visits involve a patient and a physician in a clinical office setting, sometimes with a family member present for support.

However, this routine is likely to change in the near future, according to Fortune. Two major changes are expected: A wider variety of medical professionals will take part in primary care visits, and the staff will use technology more effectively.

These two substantial changes intertwine in many ways. As the average patient increasingly requires the care of many specialists and not just a family doctor, a variety of telemedicine primary healthcare providers must be available to offer care and services.

NPs, mental health providers, nutritionists, and other specialists are likely to take part in this type of visit, but they may not care for patients in person. To advise and treat a larger number of patients with greater efficiency, many specialists will likely offer remote services.

What are some new technologies that may be used in telemedicine primary care?

Since patients and healthcare providers may not share the same physical space, Fortune explains, advanced technology will be necessary for effective treatment.

In addition to real-time video streaming, healthcare professionals may use remote sensors and data collection techniques to track patients’ health and statistics. Patients and healthcare professionals may also use smartphones and tablets to facilitate two-way communication by text, voice, or video.

By 2024, experts predict that this technology will become so predominant that the number of telemedicine visits will surpass the number of office visits. If you’re an aspiring healthcare professional eager to adopt and optimize this new technology, this bodes well for you.

It’s also likely to be a positive step for patients, who will receive care more easily and conveniently than ever before. While adapting to this technology will take the effort, it will be extremely useful for healthcare professionals and patients at large.

How can nurses utilize primary care telemedicine?

As primary telemedicine care becomes more widely available, healthcare professionals can use this technology in many ways.

Perhaps one of the most effective uses is providing essential care, which is especially important for patients who have chronic conditions that require frequent doctor visits or symptom monitoring. With telemedicine, NPs can streamline this type of ongoing care and adjust treatment plans as necessary.

Throughout your career as an NP, you may also use telemedicine to check in with patients about tests, screenings, and labs. In the past, patients would often have to make multiple visits to the lab to complete a round of tests — and they may have received results by phone.

With telemedicine, NPs can make the best use of their valuable time, reducing the number of follow-up phone calls they may have to make, while also providing patients with more accurate information through real-time video streaming.

What are the benefits of telemedicine care for medication management and rural communities?

Nurses who prescribe medications may also offer their patients greater value through telemedicine. NPs can use remote appointments to help patients manage their medications, adjusting dosages or drug types and prescribing refills when needed.

Since telemedicine can offer a more time-effective method for nurses and a more convenient option for patients, those in need may ultimately receive better and more comprehensive medication management.

Telemedicine won’t necessarily make in-person appointments outdated. Rather, the advancements in technology will offer more convenience and efficiency to both nurses and patients when providing care in certain situations.

NPs have already proven especially effective in rural areas where residents are underserved. With telemedicine, NPs can increase the aid and value they offer to patients in these areas.

While many NPs will likely continue to offer office or clinic visits in more remote areas of the U.S., offering telemedicine services enables them to give more frequent checkups and even manage medications from afar.

How will primary telemedicine care expand the scope of an NP’s work?

For years, nurses have steadily gained more authority to practice healthcare independently. That means you have more autonomy as a nurse — including full practice autonomy (FPA) in many states, where you can advise, treat, and diagnose patients without a physician’s oversight.

And if you’ve earned your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), you can take your career further quicker by taking advantage of an online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program such as the one offered at Maryville University.

As NPs begin to adopt telemedicine primary care procedures, they may have the authority to do more than just give basic care and advice. In fact. in the states where they have FPA, NPs may be able to provide the same level of care that primary care physicians would, which further expands the nurse’s role and value to the healthcare community.

Organizations have been laying the groundwork for telemedicine primary care.

As Forbes explains, in recent years, many companies have also begun offering employees better access to NPs, with more than three-quarters of large employers providing insurance coverage for retail clinic visits.

This means many patients are already accustomed to receiving regular care from NPs, especially those who provide urgent treatment.

The widespread introduction of telemedicine is likely to expand the scope of nurse practitioners’ already varied and impactful work, as patients naturally gravitate toward receiving a greater level of care and treatment from NPs than ever before. This could result in an even greater demand for both specialized and general NPs than what already exists.

Additionally, the adoption of telemedicine techniques could open doors for nurses to share their knowledge of these techniques with other professionals.

NPs who want to become cornerstones of the rapidly advancing telemedicine landscape should consider learning how to use the technology and understanding when and where to use it as soon as possible. As healthcare policy continues to evolve and both providers and patients seek treatment that offers better value, NPs have the potential to make an important difference in the industry.

Your next step could be an online BSN to DNP.

With so many technological innovations on the horizon, this is a truly exciting time to work in healthcare.

Pursuing your BSN to DNP degree could open many rewarding doors in primary care telemedicine and beyond.

If you’re ready to brave the future of nursing, check out Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice program to see how you can prepare for your next career move.

Sources:

Annals of Internal Medicine, “Policy Recommendations to Guide the Use of Telemedicine in Primary Care Settings: An American College of Physicians Position Paper”

Artificial Intelligence Applications and Innovations, “The Potential of Telemedicine”

Chiron Health, “Telemedicine for Primary Care”

Forbes, “2017 Brings More Access to Nurse Practitioners, PAs, and Telemedicine”

Fortune, “Here’s What Your Future Doctor Visits Could Look Like”

PubMed.gov, “Potential of telemedicine to provide acute medical care for adults in senior living communities”