Posted on May 12, 2021 by Waldo Beauséjour
National Nursing Week occurs every year during the week of May 12: the birthdate of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. It celebrates the nursing profession and recognizes the dedication and contributions of nurses across Canada. This year’s theme is #WeAnswerTheCall, recognizing the many roles that nurses play in the health system and in patients’ health care journeys.
This theme is particularly resonant in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. During an unprecedented time for health care, nurses of every variety have demonstrated remarkable courage and commitment. In hospitals, clinics and virtual practices across the country, they have taken on a variety of roles and tools to keep Canadians safe and ensure patients receive the care they need.
On the front lines of health care, nurses are also at the forefront of digital health adoption. Infoway’s COVID-19 tracking data has found that 40 per cent of primary care visits are now virtual. Concurrently, we found that 17 per cent of survey respondents reported calling a teletriage or nurse call line within the last twelve months.
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses were well-positioned to embrace virtual care. In the 2020 National Survey of Canadian Nurses, we found that between December 2019 and February 2020, half of Canadian nurses had used at least form of one virtual care technology. This is a significant increase from 20 per cent in 2017. Moreover, in a forthcoming research paper, we found an increase in the proportion of nurses using virtual care technologies to support rural and remote communities.
Examples of virtual care technologies in use by nurses include:
- Secure email/text message
- Virtual videoconference
- Remote patient monitoring/home health monitoring
- Telehealth with a patient and remote clinician
In addition to these virtual care technologies, some nurse practitioners are embracing tools like PrescribeIT®, Canada’s national e-prescribing service. Since nurse practitioners can diagnose complex health problems and prescribe medications in some cases, e-prescribing ensures their patients receive the medication they need while reducing in-person visits.
Nurses’ use of these digital health technologies demonstrates their ability to adapt in the face of an ongoing health crisis coupled with a widespread shift to virtual care. COVID-19 has brought significant changes and challenges to Canada’s health system. Across the country, nurses are providing care, expertise and support — often at great personal cost.
Nurses answer the call for Canadians. Let’s consider how we can answer the call for them. Follow #WeAnswerTheCall and #IKnowANurse on social media to join the conversation and visit the Canadian Nurses Association to learn more about National Nursing Week.
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Waldo holds a master’s degree in Applied Economics. He currently serves as Analyst, Performance Analytics at Canada Health Infoway. He has experience in applied social research and quantitative research methods for over 10 years. He has led and contributed to several quantitative surveys, research and impact evaluations aiming at investigating the impact of government-led or funded interventions on health outcomes.