Telehealth offers an evidenced-based approach to providing cost-effective care, education, and timely communication at a distance.1 The concept has been brought to the forefront due to the devastating effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the United States and the urgent need to find alternative ways for patients to receive care. Telehealth is now seen as an essential solution to provide access to care and limit exposure to others; health care was transformed overnight, and telehealth virtual visits via computers and smartphones are occurring globally.
Although its situation is not unique, the ostomy population is struggling to receive care. Many hospitals in the US do not employ a certified ostomy clinician. Research shows that between 20% and 70% of ostomates have complications; as much as two thirds of patients will experience pouching and/or peristomal skin difficulties. Most complications occur within 3 weeks of ostomy creation.2
In addition, the impact of having an ostomy may affect the patient’s physical, psychological, social, and spiritual wellbeing.3 Frequently, ostomates feel they do not receive enough education on how to properly care for their ostomy. Chronic skin issues, stress, and depression are inevitable without the proper education and treatment. Family and hired caregivers are typically inexperienced, relying on home care agencies who also have limited connections to certified ostomy nurses.4 The patients report not having access to supplies, ostomy nurses, and support group literature. Countless ostomates are known to isolate themselves, fearing embarrassing situations. Dating, sport activities, intimacy, and working often are halted, leaving ostomates frustrated and yearning to live their normal lives again.5