There is no doubt that 2020 brought unprecedented levels of uncertainty, stress, and burden to rural healthcare workers. As we enter 2021, many hospitals that have considered utilizing telemedicine in the past, are now moving forward with its adoption, in order to re-establish a sense of normalcy and optimism.

For clarification sake… this blog refers to the type of hospital-to-hospital telemedicine support that our teams provide at Avera eCARE…as opposed to direct to consumer telehealth. While both are growing in popularity, this particular type of telemedicine support is especially impactful for healthcare workers.

Here are six ways telemedicine will make the lives of rural nurses better in 2021:

  1. Help in the busiest of times
    The pandemic has brought more stress to the ER… and when these complicated and busy times come, it’s nice to be able to collaborate with a team of experienced ER nurses and board certified ER physicians at the push of a button. What a huge stress reliever when your local provider is busy in the clinic or coming in from call! It’s nice to know that patient care can start immediately, allowing your team to manage more cases more efficiently. Whether it’s initial assessments, ordering labs and x-rays, or assisting with intubation or chest tubes, our experienced team is there to help immediately. That’s good for patient outcomes and nursing satisfaction alike.
  2. COVID specific support
    Now that we’ve been in this pandemic for almost a year, the experience that Avera eCARE ER physicians and nurses have gained in working with over 200 rural hospitals around the country is proving to be very beneficial for those hospitals that are still experiencing waves of COVID patients – and struggling to meet the demands. If you are like a lot of hospitals, you are keeping patients that you normally would not. Perhaps venting patients and utilizing bi-pap more than normal. Many are finding themselves in high acuity / low volume situations and don’t have the comfort that comes from repetition. These are perfect circumstances where a calming coach on the other side of the monitor can make everything go so much more smoothly.
  3. Spread the work around
    In the heat of the battle, would your nursing team love to have someone documenting care for them, arranging transportation for their patients, and finding receiving facilities for patients in need of transfer?  Look, we only have so many hands, so it’s nice to have things squared away so nurses can keep their hands on the patients and focused on care and outcomes.
  4. Resources at any time… without putting more stress on your over-burdened providers
    As we mentioned before, this ER support is available at the push of button. Better yet, it’s available 24/7. So, when your nurses or providers are in need of support, they can reach out to our board certified ER docs for collaboration instead of waking one of your local providers. This peace of mind is so helpful – to the nurses with questions – and to their relationships on the local level. A good night sleep makes everyone a better colleague… which goes for nursing leadership and providers alike! Not to mention, Avera eCARE ER has been a huge extension of the teams we serve when they have staff and providers out because of illness or quarantine.
  5. Chaplaincy services
    Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of providers around the country, at times there will be negative patient outcomes. This has been amplified during the pandemic. Access to debriefing and chaplaincy services has proven to be very helpful. We have heard so much from nursing leaders about the benefit of sorting through these difficult cases from a spiritual and emotional level. These chaplain-led debriefings are especially important in small towns where the nursing teams personally know so many of the patients for which they care.
  6. Retain your most valuable resource
    Sometimes a promise of change is exactly what is needed to instill a new sense of hope into an exhausted team that may be lacking their typical positive outlook. Over the last dozen years, Avera eCARE Emergency services have brought relief to teams all around the country. In studies, over 80% of clinicians have noted that the adoption of this service has aided in recruitment and retention for their facility. In these difficult times, it’s important to do what you can to keep your most valuable resources happy… and bring new members to their team!