Telehealth Standards of Practice: a Nursing Exemplar

C.C. Bartz

Standards of practice are concepts or principles agreed to and used as models to compare quality or performance, organized by specialty or practice level or both. Health care standards use meta-concepts to organize standards.

The purpose of this paper is to describe a framework for telehealth nursing standards development and to discuss how these nursing standards can apply to other telehealth specialties. For telehealth nursing, and most likely for other telehealth care specialties, the conceptual expectations reflect the clinical practice role and the professional performance role. Standards for the clinical practice role include the responsibility to perform assessments; make diagnoses; identify outcomes; plan for the care; implement the plan to conclude care coordination; health teaching and health promotion, and consultation; and care and outcome evaluation. For example, the standard for assessment would be ‘Telehealth registered nurses systematically collect comprehensive and focused data relating to health needs and concerns of a patient, group or population.’

Standards that articulate and shape the professional performance role include application of the profession’s code of ethics; education to competence; research evidence application to practice; performance improvement; effective communication; appropriate leadership behaviours; collaboration with clients, families, and other health care professionals; performance evaluation; resource management; and assuring a safe practice environment. For example, a standard for education would be ‘telehealth registered nurses actively attain nursing knowledge and competency in order to reflect current nursing practice.’ Standards of practice inform competency development. Competencies are sets of related knowledge and abilities that enable one to act effectively in a situation. Knowledge areas include critical thinking, human caring, knowledge integration and decision-making. Other health care specialties could use these or similar standards to reflect their clinical practice roles and professional performance roles.

Conflict of interest. The author declare no conflict of interest

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