In the United States, teleprofessionals have been growing in demand amidst physician shortages. Rural hospitals and emergency departments (ED) are struggling with low-budgets and staff shortages. Before the rise of teleprofessionals, struggling hospitals and EDs were using local primary care physicians to try to fill in staffing gaps, but virtual care nurses and physicians are alleviating these gaps and adjusting the limitations on resources. Nurses were often citing a shortage of patient care resources and not enough time in a shift to perform the highest quality of care for patients.
Pooled Resources Leads to Increased Quality
The use of teleprofessionals can cause controversy within organizations who are not willing to transition to technological solutions to their staffing problems. With teleprofessionals, larger health systems are able to extend their reach and reduce patient transfers that may put a strain on their resources. Skilled and specified care coverage is not always available to every ED, but teleprofessionals can suddenly resolve this staffing problem. Additionally, providers using teleprofessionals operating in remote and rural hospitals can eliminate the need for travel between locations and provide flexibility of care.
Providers can use teleprofessionals to get instant education from colleagues anywhere in the world, which can innovate a beneficial care plan for difficult cases and shorten the stay of patients when beds are limited. Also, patients who are in need of chronic care can be monitored outside of the hospital system. By monitoring these patients using teleprofessionals, hospitals can decrease the number of potentially avoidable admissions.
Specialized Care Can Be Provided Anywhere
In rural communities, specialists are not always available to patients. Using telehealth, patients can be seen in the offices and hospitals of local providers by specialists from other areas in larger hospital systems. In recent years, staffing requirements by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services were adjusted for rural hospitals to use physician assistants and nurse practitioners to provide care during the 24-hour care period as long as physicians could be contacted via telemedicine in an emergency. Since this change, hospitals that have adopted telemedicine practices have saved nearly $120,000 per year in salaries.