The role of telehealth in overnight patient care

Hospitals care for patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and need to be staffed appropriately to do so. Not all of those clinicians need to be right there on the premises, however.

Telehealth systems are becoming better recognised as a way to get the best care for patients, as quickly as possible. They can really come into their own overnight when staffing levels may be lower.

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Telemedicine allows nursing staff to call in a doctor immediately to get an expert opinion on a case, while also offering reassurance to the patient. They are not only able to hear but to see their physician, meaning they can talk directly to them and build up vital trust. A visual system, where communication is carried out using a tablet or computer, also allows a doctor to see exactly what is going on.

These systems can be a real benefit to clinical staffing, particularly in busy city hospitals or rural areas where doctors could be hard pressed to get to the patient’s location.

Changing the way clinicians work

Night shifts may not be the first choice for most people when looking for their ideal job, and physicians are no different.

Yes, it’s a vocation and a 24 hour a day job, but telehealth has the potential to change medical duties for the better. A remote system means doctors can effectively be on call anywhere at any time.

It also has the potential to offer financial benefits to health care providers and hospitals. A digital system allowing immediate access to the right clinician can be much more cost effective than paying a doctor to work overnight

Whether in telehealth or in other clinical disciplines, resourcing is critical and providers are increasingly turning to specialist resources such as for the appropriate skills.

Quality of care

Like any other doctor, physicians working in telemedicine need to be right for the job. They have to bond with their patients quickly and put them at ease, so finding the right staff is essential.

Even the American Medical Association have recognised the benefits of the system and have recently issued guidelines to support doctors and to help them “achieve the promise” of telehealth.

They suggest a coordinated effort across the profession to make the technology more accessible to patients who want to use it.