As we are all aware, nursing homes suffered a great deal during the height of the pandemic, and even long after many things were getting back to normal, nursing homes still lacked the staff they needed to fully meet the medical needs of their patients. In fact, 10% of patients who enter a nursing facility for post-acute care never see a physician during their stay. Sadly, this statistic leads to poor medical outcomes and higher re-hospitalization rates.
28% of patients who do not see a physician in the nursing home will be re-hospitalized and 14% will die within 30 days of being admitted. However, if a patient does have access to a physician, those percentages are cut in half.
Telemedicine is Changing Nursing Homes
The best thing that nursing homes can do right now is to employ on-site APRNs and incorporate telemedicine into their daily operations.
According to one study, the presence of an on-site APRN can reduce hospitalizations by 48% and can lower costs by 40%. In fact, if every nursing home in the US employed an APRN, Medicare costs could be cut by nearly 2.8 billion dollars per year.
One of the ways that APRNs benefit patients, staff, and budget is their ability to recognize early signs of infection and help other nursing staff do the same. Acute conditions like pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and severe dehydration can all be treated in the nursing home if problems are detected early enough. Flare-ups of chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure, uncontrolled diabetes, and COPD and asthma are also conditions that don’t require hospitalization with early detection.
Having a combination of on-site APRNs as well as incorporating telemedicine can help put any nursing home facility at the top of their game inpatient care.
The current average wait time for a patient to see a doctor after admission is 3.2 days but increases to 8.1 days for rural facilities. This means that the median stay for patients is just 11 days before they are either re-hospitalized or death occurs. With telemedicine, all this can change. Telemedicine means that each nursing home has access to physicians they need. In large facilities, the nursing staff is augmented to make care available round-the-clock, and rural facilities that cannot employ on-site clinical staff can now have access to the physicians they need.
With APRNs and physicians working together through telemedicine, 83% of medical issues can be treated in the nursing home and hospitalizations due to acute encounters can be reduced by 17%. The most common diagnoses are things such as bleeding, pain, pneumonia, chest pain, seizures, and hypotension. Overall hospital readmissions can also be reduced by up to 70%.
Telemedicine has helped the medical community keep moving forward and treating patients without missing a beat through the whole pandemic. Telemedicine is changing nursing homes for the better. It is vitally important to our most vulnerable population that that same medical advancement be available and embraced by nursing homes across the country.