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Telenursing is the use of telecommunications technology to provide nursing practice at a distance.1 This can be something as simple as faxing medical records to the more complex delivery of nursing care to patients’ home through the use of cameras and computer technologies.

The most common use of telenursing is by managed care organisations that use registered nurses to triage from centralised locations via communication systems as a means of reducing the use of emergency rooms. An excellent example would be NHS Direct in the United Kingdom.


Telenursing has also been used as a tool in home nursing. It is especially useful in cases of elderly and chronically ill patients who need to be nursed at home and are remotely located.2 3

Telenursing can also provide opportunities for patient education, professional consultations, examination of test results and assisting physicians in implementation of medical treatment protocols.4

In the United States, although telenursing is being practised across state lines, it can be fraught with potential liability issues, as states require nurses to be licensed where they are providing care. Civil and criminal penalties can thus be brought against health care providers if they don’t conform to the laws of the state.

Telenursing practitioners should take this into consideration, in addition to be ensuring safe and ethical practice with the privacy and confidentiality of patient information.


  1. The National Council of State Boards. August 1999 [WWW] The National Council of State Boards of Nursing Position Paper on Telenursing: A Challenge to Regulation. http://www.ncsbn.org/public/news/res/Telenursing%20Paper.pdf (25TH September 2003).

  2. Arnaert, A.; Delesie, L. Telenursing for the elderly. The case for care via vidoe-telephony. J Telemed Telecare 2001;7(6):311-6

  3. Wheeler, T. Strategies for delivering tele-home care -- provider profiles. Telemed Today 1998 Aug;6(4):37-40.

  4. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing. 1996 [WWW] Telenursing: The Regulatory Implications for Multistate Regulation. http://www.ncsbn.org/public/resources/nocost_archive_17_3_01.htm (25TH September 2003).

Useful Links

  • NHS Direct Online
    Online version of the 24-hour telephone service providing advice and health information from nurses and run by the National Health Service in the UK.

  • Telenursing
    A list of online telenursing resources from Allhealthnet.com.



International Medical Informatics Association
American Medical Informatics Association
UK Health Informatics Society
British Computer Society Health Informatics Committee
European Federation for Medical Informatics
American Nursing Informatics Association
American Telemedicine Association

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Last Updated: 10 August 2006.

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