Telenursing: Nursing Informatics in Practice

Telenursing: Nursing Informatics in Practice

Sisira Edirippulige (The University of Queensland, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-034-1.ch012
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Evidence is emerging that the use of the information and communication technologies (ICT) in healthcare settings facilitates better quality care. In general terms telenursing is the use of technology for delivering nursing care at distance. Evidence suggests that telenursing applications can be effective in both healthcare and non-institutional settings. Nurses’ readiness to utilize telenursing applications is an important prerequisite for the wider use of this tool. This chapter examines the best evidence for telenursing practices and reviews the studies relating to the nurses knowledge, perceptions and expectations on using technology in their routine practice.
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Telenursing And Workforce Issues

The role of nurses in health care settings is rapidly evolving. The diversity of nursing responsibility is reflected in the many terms attached to the profession i.e. district nurses, health visitors, school nurses, GP practice nurses, nurse consultants, clinical nurse specialists and home health care nurses just name few. Nurses play a critical role in every sphere of healthcare. They treat patients, educate patients and the public about various medical conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patient’s family members. Nurses are responsible for recording patients’ medical histories and symptoms, help perform diagnostic tests and analyse results, operate medical machinery, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation. Teaching patients and their families how to manage their illness or injury, explaining post-treatment home care needs, diet, nutrition, and exercise programs and self-administration of medication and physical therapy are also some important duties of nurses.

Among others, providing care to people at home is also one of the traditional roles of nurses. Research has shown that there is a clear relationship between the number of nurses and the quality of care. Studies have also revealed the co-relation between nursing care and the speed of healing process, length of hospitalisation and stress level of patients and families (Weinert, Cudney & Wade, 2008; Chaudhry, Phillips, Stewart, Reigel, Mattera, Jerant & Krumholz, 2007).

While the importance of nurse’s role has been widely reported, alarming signs are emerging about the implications of shortage of nurses. According to recent statistics, all Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries have a growing shortage of nurses. A US Federal Government study predicts that hospital nursing vacancies will reach 800,000, or 29 percent, by 2020 (Health Resources and Services Administration). Australia projects a shortage of 40,000 nurses by 2010 (Global Shortage of Registered Nures, 2005). The shortage of nurses in developing countries is daunting, with the lack of resources to produce qualified nurses aggravated by the rapid exodus of nursing staff (Kingma, 2004). According to The World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, Sub Saharan Africa is short of 60,000 nurses to meet Millennium Development Goals (The World Health Report, 2005).

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