Virtual checkups are one of the latest trends in the health care industry according to a recent article in the Associated Press. Due to the nationwide shortage of nurses and an aging baby boomer population, home telehealth programs are allowing nursing agencies to keep in constant communication with their patients. The technology allows nurses to detect serious health problems early and often eliminates emergency room visits. There are an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 patients in the country using remote teleheath units, according to the American Telemedicine Association, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C.
The computer stations supplement but do not typically replace conventional nurse visits however, allow the patients and nurses to operate more efficiently. Patients and their home health aides are trained on how to use the computer station, which includes a stethoscope, vital sign equipment, a glucose meter and a pulse oximeter. Readings from the machines are transmitted to the nursing agency, sometimes on a daily basis. The camera provides nurses the opportunity to investigate injuries and other problems.
Home health care nurses who have used the machines with their patients agree that the computer stations enhance the nurse-patient relationship and bring a new level of care into the twenty first century. Patients have praised the virtual checkup process for saving them trips to the hospital and the doctor’s office.