As healthcare institutions are looking to adopt new technologies to better assist patients, telehealth is becoming a prominent resource for many practitioners. By providing the ability to call or video conference with healthcare providers, institutions can offer patients the care they need from the comfort of their own homes.

However, to address safety and ensure high standards of care, the Joint Commission has revised its hospital and ambulatory healthcare accreditation program standards to include language that addresses direct-to-patient telehealth services. 

From now until June 22, 2017, the Joint Commission will be accepting comments from healthcare professionals based on the new language. The hospital accreditation program and the ambulatory healthcare accreditation program both saw several updates, including:

  • For hospitals/organizations providing direct-to-patient telehealth services: The hospital has a process to confirm the location of the patient in order to assign a provider in accordance with licensure requirements and law and regulation.
  • The informed consent process includes a discussion about the patient's proposed care, treatment, and services. Note: For hospitals providing direct-to-patient telehealth services: The discussion about the patient’s proposed care, treatment, and services includes the type of modality that will be used (for example, telephone, video, asynchronous communication).
  • For hospitals/organizations providing direct-to-patient telehealth services: The hospital informs the patient about his or her direct-to-patient telehealth services.

The Important Role of Nursing for Telehealth Services

Nurses are already playing a huge role in the implementation and support of telehealth services. Institutions across the country are offering these solutions to patients suffering from all types of diseases, especially those with chronic illnesses and comorbidities. With the rising cost of health care, telehealth services allow nurses to monitor patient symptoms, provide helpful prevention information, simplify case management, and can make care coordination much easier—with little added cost to patients.

Because the Joint Commission’s revised language could potentially impact procedures and processes, nurse professionals should be aware of these changes. Consider contributing your voice to the revised hospital standards and the revised ambulatory healthcare standards at the Joint Commission’s website. Commenting is a quick and easy way to share the invaluable voice of the oncology nursing community.

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