Telehealth nurses utilize the latest technology to provide distance healthcare to patients through monitoring and virtual visits. Remote healthcare delivery offers convenience and lower costs, and jobs in telehealth nursing are on the rise as virtual healthcare services become more common.
Telehealth Nurse Career in Brief
Telenursing jobs may include monitoring patient health remotely or providing care for patients during video, phone, and chat visits. Telehealth nurses work under the supervision of physicians or nurse practitioners and may oversee nursing assistants.
adn or bsn required
- Monitoring vital signs or medical data such as blood pressure
- Communicating with patients through phone calls, online chats, or video conferencing
- Recognizing when to advise a patient to visit a care site
Certification Options: Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification (RN-BC)
- Online communication skills
- Attention to detail
- Technical adeptness
Where Do Telehealth Nurses Work?
Telehealth nurses generally work from hospitals, physician practices, or other healthcare sites, though a growing number work from home, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology enables telehealth nurses to provide care for patients in rural locations, recovering at home, or who otherwise need care but could be treated at home depending on symptoms.
- Virtual Visits
- Usually conducted over video, virtual visits with a telehealth nurse might involve telephone calls or live chat. They may be either follow ups to on-site visits or a preliminary step to see if an in-person visit is necessary.
- Chat-Based Interactions
- Patients and nurses can use chat technology for both synchronous and asynchronous communications, including sending health information to telehealth nurses and other healthcare professionals.
- Remote Patient Monitoring
- Remote patient monitoring allows telehealth nurses and other clinicians to obtain data about a patient’s condition through sensors, monitors, or other healthcare apps.
Effects of COVID-19 on Telehealth Services
Effects: The CDC reports a 154% increase in telehealth visits in March 2020 compared to March 2019.
Additionally, many states have expanded or temporarily suspended laws that govern telehealth to allow for easier access and delivery of care. For example, providers licensed only in North Carolina can treat patients in South Carolina and Georgia.
Benefits: Telehealth expands access to care, reduces nurses’ exposure to disease and need for personal protective equipment (PPE), and allows more patients to be taken care of by one healthcare facility, compared to in-person services. These benefits serve the healthcare community greatly during a pandemic and can continue to serve communities after the pandemic.
Downsides: Data security becomes a concern as more services transition online and ransomware attacks target hospitals and health systems. In addition, not all insurance carriers cover all telehealth nursing services or they might cover different rates from in-person visits. Online communication can also pose difficulties for telehealth nurses, especially on low bandwidth connections.
Some challenges to telehealth include limited practice such as not being able to swab for strep throat or directly listen to cardiac sounds using a stethoscope.
Why Become a Telehealth Nurse?
Advantages to Telehealth Nursing
- Opportunity to serve patients who otherwise wouldn’t have easy access to care, such as those with physical mobility issues or in rural locales.
- Less risk of disease transmission for nurses and patients and less need for PPE.
- Virtual monitoring is more cost effective than in-patient monitoring.
- Better client experience for patients who find waiting at home less frustrating than waiting on site.
Disadvantages to Telehealth Nursing
- Limits to what care telehealth nurses can provide (patients still have to go to a care site for most diagnostic testing or imaging).
- With more communications, health records, and data conducted and stored online, the greater the chance of cyberattacks, patient privacy violations, and subsequent heavy fines.
- Insurance may not cover all telenursing services or charge different rates for telehealth services.
- Online communication challenges, including interpersonal factors and technology requirements such as adequate bandwidth.
How To Become a Telehealth Nurse
Graduate with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or an associate degree in nursing (ADN)
Pass NCLEX exam to receive an RN license
The multiple choice exam
, which takes up to six hours, includes questions on conditions, treatments, patient interactions, and the legal and ethical aspects of nursing.
Gain required nursing experience
There are no standardized telehealth nursing requirements, but telehealth nursing calls for exceptionally strong patient communications and honed observation skills. Most employers require several years of bedside experience for telehealth nurses.
Earn your certification by passing the ambulatory care nursing certification exam
While telehealth nursing does not require a specific certification at this time, many telehealth nurses earn an ambulatory care
nursing certification, which covers treatment outside healthcare settings, such as in patients homes.
How Much Do Telehealth Nurses Make?
Telehealth nursing jobs offer generous compensation, above the United States average for all jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses (RNs) make a median annual wage of $73,300. In 2019, the highest paid 10% of RNs earned more than $111,200.
Primarily due to the growing need for healthcare for the aging population, jobs for RNs are projected to grow faster than average, with a BLS projected increase of 7% between 2019 and 2029. Telenursing jobs will likely make up a significant proportion of this growth; technology makes it easier to provide necessary ongoing monitoring, such as for blood pressure levels, and to provide care for patients with mobility issues that make it difficult for them to visit a care site.
Find State-Specific Salary Data Here
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between telehealth and telemedicine?
Telemedicine, the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions from a remote location, is one part of telehealth. However, only physicians and nurse practitioners can perform telemedicine (diagnosis and treatment). Nurses are authorized to perform telehealth which includes education, monitoring, and triage from a remote location.
Can a nurse perform telemedicine?
No, nurses are not authorized to diagnose and treat medical conditions. Nurses can provide a variety of services through telehealth, including patient education, triage, and obtaining information about a patient’s symptoms and conditions to pass to a nurse practitioner or physician. However, unlike nurse practitioners and physicians, they are not licensed to provide telemedicine.
How is telehealth practiced?
Telehealth is any kind of healthcare provided outside the home, supported by some kind of electronic communication. It includes telephone visits with telehealth nurses as well as newer forms like remote monitoring, video visits, and online chats.
How can an RN make money from home?
RNs can work from home in telenursing jobs such as triage and case management, as well as jobs that do not involve direct care for patients such as informatics, insurance claim adjustments, legal nursing consulting, and freelance writing. Some of these home-based jobs for nurses require additional or specialized education or training.
Professional Organizations for Telehealth Nurse
American Telemedicine Association
The American Telemedicine Association engages in advocacy for telemedicine in healthcare policy; monitors technical and clinical updates; conducts benchmarking; and supplies information to its members. Membership is open to organizations involved in telemedicine, such as healthcare providers, health plans, technology organizations, and alliances.
International Society for Telemedicine & eHealth
The International Society for Telemedicine & eHealth's mission is to promote best telemedicine practices and foster international dissemination of knowledge. It acts primarily as an umbrella organization for national societies of telemedicine and works with the World Health Organization and International Telecommunication Union. Membership is open to organizations and individuals.
American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing
AAACN provides resources for RNs in any ambulatory care setting, including telehealth nurses. It offers ambulatory nursing certification, professional development and continuing education, and publications. Full membership is open to RNs, and AAACN also offers affiliate or student nonvoting memberships.
Elizabeth Clarke, FNP, MSN, RN, MSSW
Elizabeth Clarke, FNP, MSN, RN, MSSW is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Clarke got tired of the cold and snowy winters and moved to Coral Gables, Florida in order to complete her undergraduate degree in nursing at the University of Miami. After working for several years in the UHealth and Jackson Memorial Medical systems in the cardiac and ER units, Clarke returned to the University of Miami to complete her master of science in nursing (MSN). Since completing her MSN degree, Clarke has worked providing primary and urgent care to pediatric populations.