Prevalence of Telehealth in Nursing: Implications for Regulation and Education in the Era of Value-Based Care

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Value-based care theoretically catalyzes the business case for telehealth. Hence, the purpose of this study was to define the proportion of a statewide nursing workforce who self-reported telehealth or telephonic nursing as their primary work setting in a U.S. state undergoing rapid transitions to value-based care. We conducted a secondary analysis of a 2017 statewide nurse relicensure survey (n = 10,851), overall response rate 99%. The focus of the analysis was registered nurses who reported that they were currently working in Vermont or serving residents of the state (n = 8,457). Analysis was limited to descriptive statistics. We found that 18.4% of respondents (n = 1,556) reported their employment status as “telehealth/ working as a telephonic nurse.” Responding to a different question, 17.2% (n = 1,458) defined “telehealth/telephonic” as their primary work setting. Thus, nearly one fifth of nurses practicing in the state were employed in telehealth, a role for which there is scant preparation in nursing education. The multistate practice of roughly one third of these nurses highlights the importance of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact and raises questions about global telenurse practice. Taken as a whole, these findings have profound implications for health care policy development and implementation, ongoing workforce development and analyses, nursing regulation, education, and continuing education. New and renewed skills are needed to provide safe, effective, culturally relevant telehealth, and virtual care.

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Policy, Politics, and Nursing Practice