Technology is changing every day, whether we like it or not. The healthcare sector is an ever-changing landscape. Technology has helped improve quality of care, make jobs easier, and improve effectiveness. Schools and healthcare organizations, both big and small, can’t afford to be behind the 8 ball. This is why the University at Buffalo School of Nursing is preparing faculty and students to use telehealth technology in under served rural areas. Telehealth is the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies. Telehealth means that you don’t have to be in the same place in order to make diagnoses or perform health-related services.
The UB School of Nursing recently received a 1 year SUNY High Needs grant to train nursing students in telehealth. This will allow people who can’t travel to a hospital or doctor’s office to receive treatment. This technology allows patients to use live video feeds and self-diagnostic devices to receive care in the comfort of their own home. Although telehealth technology has been around for a while, the systems are not used due to the lack of training and upfront costs to install the equipment.
The fund from the grant will be used to equip students and faculty with GlobalMed Transportable Exam Systems (TES). TES is mobile telehealth technology that can be used to check blood pressure, prescribe medications, and diagnose illnesses, along with other capabilities. TES allows patients to remotely consult with health care professionals over live video using a Wi-Fi or broadband Internet connection. The systems – no larger than a suitcase – come equipped with several instruments normally found in a clinical facility, which patients can use under the guidance of health care providers to perform examinations. UB nursing students and faculty will use a portable system, which will allow students to travel to patients in rural areas, a population that is vastly under served by health care professionals.
This University at Buffalo School of Nursing initiative is called “Telehealth Competencies for Advanced Nurse Practitioners”. The initiative is led by the clinical professor and assistant dean of the master’s and doctor of nursing practice program, Tammy Austin-Ketch, Ph.D., RN. The initiative will work with Western New York clinical sites to recruit recently discharged patients who are in need of house calls. After faculty and students receive training with TES equipment, students will travel to patients’ homes with the equipment to guide them through examinations. The nursing school will house a video command center where faculty can supervise students and help evaluate patients over a live video stream.
This new program will train more than 50 graduate students and 10 nurse faculty members. After completing the program, there will be a survey of graduates to track the number of them going on to work in rural areas, as well as gather data on their professional experience with telehealth technology.