Nurses play a pivotal role in the provision of healthcare. Home telehealth, the use of information and communication technologies to deliver and support healthcare directly to the home, is emerging as an important application for nurses. This chapter provides an overview of home telehealth and how it may be applied to the practical challenges nurses face everyday. We provide a summary of the evidence available to support its use in specific areas and a guide for those thinking of implementing telehealth in their own practice. The future of home telehealth lies in carefully considered and designed research, ongoing education and training and a multidisciplinary approach. This chapter aims to stimulate the consideration of home telehealth as an application that may improve nursing care and ultimately patient outcomes.
What Is Home Telehealth?
Home telehealth is the use of information and communication technologies to deliver and support health care in a non-institutional setting – that is, at home or in an assisted-living facility (Wootton, Kvedar & Dimmick, 2006). Home telehealth applications may include real time techniques, for example videoconferencing (Figure 1) as well as store and forward techniques, for example email or web-based applications (Figure 2).
Real-time home telehealth using web cams and the Internet. Mother and child at home discussing care with an oncology clinical nurse consultant
Store and forward home telehealth. A nurse screening children with diabetes for eye problems sending clinical information and images to a specialist ophthalmologist via email
In addition, various devices such as alarms, sensors and monitoring equipment are being used in home telehealth applications (Darkins, et al, 1996). Telehealth gives an opportunity to contact patients remotely augmenting and extending conventional care.