Are CRNAs Prepared for Telehealth?

Among the many changes and future plans for healthcare is the general concept of Telehealth. This short blog will
present some insights into this topic. How should our profession be part of the process and what are some
concerns?

What is telehealth?

According to the American Telemedicine Association, telehealth encompasses a range of services, from health
monitoring and patient consultation to the transmission of medical records. It’s more broadly defined as any electronic exchange of health information. A growing number of healthcare organizations have embraced telehealth because of the benefits it may provide to patients and clinicians.

Improving healthcare access
One of the biggest advantages of telehealth services is easy access to on-demand care. During a telemedicine
consultation, a physician can inquire about symptoms, discuss treatment and determine whether a prescription is
necessary. More importantly, for patients who don’t have a reliable means of transportation or who struggle with mobility challenges or disabilities that make traveling difficult, remote access can be a huge quality of life improvement. This is especially true for those living with chronic conditions for
which frequent checkups are necessary. Telehealth services are also helping to fill healthcare gaps faced by
rural communities across the United States — in areas where patients may have to drive for hours to get to the
nearest hospital or specialist.

Editor’s Note: We need to be monitoring this aspect of telehealth carefully, because of the large number of
CRNA, only practices in the rural areas. This could possibly be an opening for physician anesthesiologists
to get involved in these practices by remote access.

We could also use telehealth as a mechanism to interact with our patients, for pre-anesthesia evaluation and reviewing on-line medical records.

Like most progress related to technology, the underlying topic is related to money and economic factors. Will the government and insurance companies get involved? Will they pass the cost to the patients? Who will financially benefit? Lots of questions making it essential that we carefully follow this topic. (mjm 2/1/18)

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