We spoke to Jenny Tarver, a community respiratory specialist nurse from Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust, who has just completed a research scholarship on telehealth for her Masters. The scholarship was with The Florence Nightingale Foundation, sponsored by NHS Professionals.
Why did you choose to do a scholarship with the Florence Nightingale Foundation?
I was looking for funding to do my dissertation for my Masters when I came across the research scholarship on the Florence Nightingale Foundation website. My dissertation was on telehealth and I noticed they had a particular interest in long term conditions so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me.
Why did you choose to do your research on telehealth?
The use of telehealth has grown significantly over the past decade as there has been an escalation of chronic disease among an increasing ageing population. This has led to worldwide efforts to determine innovative approaches to deal with this and telehealth has been used as one possible approach to this problem. I also noticed that locally, commissioners had a big interest in telehealth as it is very useful in our rural county. It has proven to be a good way of prioritising which patient can be seen before someone else.
What were your key findings in the report?
Through my research I noticed there was a significant lack of patient involvement in the research processes, with most of the studies I researched only exploring patient specific outcomes as a secondary consideration. I noticed some positive and negative impacts of telehealth, one of the positives being that it strengthens people’s capacity to self-manage their condition, which is also a central part of the government’s attempts to control the demand for healthcare.
What were your recommendations?
In my report I noted lots of recommendations but the underlying theme was that more research should be done with a patient focus. Telehealth has lots of benefits, which could be extended if the professionals engage patient involvement in all elements of the telehealth implementation.
What’s your perspective on the relationship between telehealth and nursing?
There is a lot of potential for nurses to utilise telehealth but there are mixed perceptions of it. As I work in a respiratory team of nurses we can see the benefits first hand so we see it as a positive. Some nurses are afraid of technology as it is a completely different way of working. Nurses are used to diagnosing patients face to face, but by using telehealth they have to speak to them over the phone and have to know what questions to ask.
Has the scholarship had a positive impact on your role in any way?
It has definitely enhanced my role as a respiratory nurse and I am now the lead resource in telehealth. Shropshire is a rural county and I sometimes feel it tends to get forgotten about compared to all of the events and conferences that take place in London. The scholarship has given me some great links to organisations that I wouldn’t have been in touch with before. I attended this year’s Florence Nightingale Foundation Conference and have also learnt more about NHS Professionals because of their sponsorship.
Jenny will be taking part in the Ceremony of the Lamp at the Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service on 8th May at Westminster Abbey.