Telehealth Nursing and Midwifery is the practice of nursing and midwifery from a distance, using information and telecommunication technology. The information and telecommunication technology employed may include, but is not limited to: telephone, computer, video transmission, direct connection to instrumentation and image transmission.
Nurses and midwives are essential to the success of the Australian government’s initiative to support the use of telehealth in the provision of health care. This initiative funds the provision of health professional support at the user end of a telehealth online video consultation with a medical specialist using Medicare. The end game is, where telehealth is appropriate, to increase access to specialist services for people in regional, rural and remote areas without the cost and inconvenience of extensive travel. In practice, it will predominantly be nurses and midwives that will be providing support for telehealth services at the ‘patient end’ of the online video consultation in the primary health and aged care settings.
The ANF is part of a Nursing and Midwifery Telehealth Consortia, along with the Australian Practice Nurses Association, the Australian College of Midwives, the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners and CRANAplus, funded by the Department of Health and Ageing to provide telehealth education and support specifically for nurses and midwives. The Consortia has been working on the development of a four hour Online Learning Package (OLP) and national Telehealth Professional Standards and Practice Guidelines for nurses and midwives.
The ANF has taken carriage of the Telehealth Standards and Guidelines component of the project. Since the project commenced in June last year, the ANF has convened, managed and actively participated in the Standards Advisory Group, known as the TeleSAG, to advise on the development of the standards and guidelines which will assist nurses, nurse practitioners and midwives in the provision of health services via telehealth technology. The draft standards, which are based on the national competency standards for both the registered nurse and the registered midwife, were circulated for comment to the nursing and midwifery professions in the December/January period. The practice guidelines, designed to complement a range of resources already available for health professionals undertaking telehealth, are still in development. They will focus on advice to nurses and midwives on specific clinical practice issues relating to the use of telehealth for online video consultations. Both the Telehealth Standards and the Practice Guidelines will be completed by the end of March this year. Details of these two documents will be included in the four hour OLP currently being developed for nurses and midwives by the Consortia.
The OLP will be available on the ANF website by June this year.
Federal Senior Professional Officer