From the time she was a little girl, Iris Berman knew she wanted to become a nurse. Helping to care for her friend’s playground scrapes since she was six years old, Iris couldn’t have imagined that one day she would actually be a nurse with a bright future in medicine.
Starting her career as a registered nurse at Glen Cove Hospital more than 30 years ago, Iris worked per diem in a variety of environments before transitioning to culinary care. Discovering her passion for critical care, Iris eventually became a critical care nurse educator. It was as an educator working in stroke improvement where she first learned how Telestroke’s outcomes were bringing advanced care to patients through the power of technology in a way that wasn’t possible before. With this growing interest in Telemedicine, Iris jumped at the opportunity to apply for a job working in Telehealth within Northwell.
Today, Iris is the vice president of Telehealth Services at Northwell Health. “Telehealth highlights the opportunities and ability of our health system to be progressive, agile, and welcoming all at once,” says Iris. “I am one of the fortunate who truly loves going to work every day.”
We sat down with Iris to learn more about Telehealth Services at Northwell Health and how it’s an exciting career opportunity.
What are the benefits of Telehealth?
Telehealth uses technology (two-way audiovisual equipment) that enables patients and care providers to connect across distances, such as a hospital, clinic, office or home.
At Northwell, telehealth has grown monumentally in both acute inpatient, outpatient and direct to consumer (DTC) care. We have coverage of nearly 200 critical care beds in our Tele-ICU environment and use that platform to add other specialty care such as intensivist consultation to EDs, Tele-Neuro Critical Care, Telestroke Care, Teletrauma, Telepeds, Telehospitalists, Remote care to Skilled Nursing Facilities (TeleSNF) and the list will continue to grow. In addition we have a number of DTC programs (currently approaching nearly 30 programs) enabling patients to get care and consultation in their home, clinic, hospital and doctor’s office. Some examples include Tobacco Cessation support, Telegenetics consults, Neurology for movement disorders, Coumadin Clinic and more. These programs are helping to expedite time to expert opinion and mitigate complications that come from delays in care.
Why is Telehealth the future of healthcare?
As more people become accustomed to the digital world, they also become used to technology when they purchase services and encounter healthcare. In addition, the advent of improved technology makes this a more convenient way for everyone to access care on the go with a known provider no matter where they are. I believe care and outcomes will improve as we become more efficient in our access and consumption of that care. Telehealth also leverages nursing expertise in a technology-driven environment that is not as physically demanding, which is appealing for many nurses as well.
How can someone build a career in Telehealth?
There are a number of jobs in Telehealth and at Northwell we are continuing to expand our reach. Jobs will continue to grow and will rely a great deal on gaining experience at the bedside. If you like to mentor, Tele-ICU is for you. As we grow, jobs will continue to expand into areas that may include triaging of calls, training, project management and business analytics. NPs and PAs are especially gaining in popularity as part of a remote Telehealth team.
What is the best career advice you have for those looking to get into TeleHealth?
First and foremost it’s important for nurses to get bedside experience. This is necessary in order to become an expert in the field before transitioning into a Telehealth role. If you are interested in informatics and process design, find a way to thread it through your clinical experience. More and more jobs will look somewhat hybrid as we continue to evolve. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. And lastly, be sure that you are comfortable with being on camera if you are looking to be in the patient care arena of Telehealth.