Bridging the Gap: Enhancing Healthcare Access through Telehealth Nursing

Healthcare accessibility has become an increasingly bigger problem over the last several years. Nursing shortages are certainly a significant part of the problem, but it’s also just one of several factors that all amount to the same thing: there is a significant portion of the population who can’t get the healthcare assistance they require. 

Whether the hospital lacks resources or the patients simply can’t access them, the result is the same. When people can’t get good preventative care their health declines, and the healthcare system is further strained by more significant emergencies. 

It’s a self-defeating cycle, but fortunately not one without hope. In this article, we take a look at how telehealth technology can help bridge the accessibility gap. 

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth technology allows patients to access many of the same services they would have gotten at the doctor’s office from the comfort of their homes. This can include video conferences, instant messaging, record viewing, and so on. 

Telehealth nursing has several benefits:

  • Allows you to cover more ground: Telehealth appointments, be they video conferencing or just answering patient questions, tend to be significantly faster than seeing a patient at the office. Not only does this increased speed benefit the patient— now they don’t need to take half a day just to go to the doctor— but it also allows the office to operate more effectively, seeing more patients in the day. 
  • Takes the sting out of shortages: Nursing shortages can make it hard for hospitals to handle even a normal influx of patients. However, with telehealth, it may be possible to reduce the number of people coming into the office. Instead of coming in for a question, people can communicate through the app and get it answered remotely. With fewer people coming in, nurses and doctors can devote more time to the more complicated cases. 
  • Increases the likelihood of people seeking care: If a person is concerned about something related to their health they may put off speaking with the doctor on the grounds that they don’t want the trouble of going in. Telehealth makes it significantly easier to get care, increasing the odds that people will get the care they need. 

Is it the same thing as having a well-staffed hospital? No. But since that isn’t an option for many healthcare providers, it’s important to find a workable solution that benefits employees and patients alike. In many places, telehealth has been able to bridge that gap. 

A Perfect Solution?

Though telehealth has its merits, it is worth noting that this is far from being a perfect solution. For one thing, there are certain healthcare experiences that need to be had in a professional setting. Labwork, physicals, etc. 

Telehealth can be good for consultations, quick questions, and even wellness visits. However, it will always be limited in its application. 

There is also an accessibility problem. Unfortunately, many of the people who can’t get to the hospital also may not be able to use telehealth technology. This is due to what experts refer to as “the digital divide”— the gulf between people who can use digital technology, and those who cannot. 

There are several reasons that people may not have access to digital technology:

  • Finances: An obvious one. An internet connection can cost almost $100 a month— a sum that many families may not be able to afford. While there are places where you can access the internet for free, they aren’t appropriate for healthcare. Who wants to answer sensitive health-related questions at the library?
  • Age: Many people aged 65 and older can afford digital technology but don’t know how to use it. This group of people is shrinking every day. The modern retiree is reaching their golden years having worked with digital technology for decades. However, there is still a significant portion of the geriatric community that simply will not be able to use telehealth technology on their own.
  • Location: Finally, there is also a surprisingly large segment of the population who just doesn’t have reliable access to the internet. These people live primarily in rural areas—the same folks who often don’t have good access to hospitals in the first place. The reason behind this disparity is the same. Rural areas are generally significant in terms of geography but modest in terms of population. For companies that supply wifi, it doesn’t make sense to spend a significant amount on infrastructure to service a small section of the population. 

While these problems are significant, they are only impacting a small portion of the population. Most people will be able to benefit at least somewhat from telehealth technology. Those who cannot may find the answer to their healthcare-related problems through other means. 

For example, many hospitals fill their staffing needs by taking advantage of traveling nurses. And healthcare clinics that have patients who can’t come to them find a way to go into the communities themselves. Mobile healthcare clinics can be outfitted with all of the resources found in a doctor’s office and are a great way to gain access to otherwise hard-to-reach patients. 

Many people are also taking their health into their own hands through wearable healthcare technology that takes granular data on their vitals. These devices are a great way to keep track of a lot of information that used to only be accessible through doctor visits. 


Healthcare is in such a state that there will never be one solution to the accessibility problem. One issue not mentioned in this article is the cost barrier to high-quality care. That’s something no app can solve. Many of healthcare’s biggest problems can only be solved through legislative action. 

However, patients can work with their healthcare systems to put together a solution that works for both of them. Apps, mobile clinics, wearable devices, and healthcare professionals who are willing to make the best of what they have been given are all necessary components of bridging the accessibility gap. 

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