New Research: Pros and Cons of Telehealth in Nursing Homes

CAST | November 10, 2021 | by Donna Childress

Find insight on when telehealth is the right choice for your residents and staff.

Telehealth has pros and cons, and recent research identifies ways that senior living organizations can make telehealth sessions as successful as possible for residents and for staff.
Consequences of Rapid Telehealth Expansion in Nursing Homes: Promise and Pitfalls” shared results from interviews with 21 nursing home administrators and clinicians from 16 facilities. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funded the study.
The study abstract identified several positives. Residents can avoid travel and have better access to care and enhanced communication, and the nursing home can save organizational resources.
Findings also revealed drawbacks. Residents may prefer in-person visits, telehealth may increase social isolation, and visits may be difficult for people who have cognitive challenges. Nursing homes may experience challenges with workflow and tech usability and increased pressure on staff and infrastructure. In particular, study participants in rural areas named lack of training, internet/connectivity issues, and poor video and sound quality as challenges.
As researcher Kimberly Powell, PhD, RN, CNE of the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News for a recent article, “While telehealth can be very convenient and beneficial, it should not be viewed as a one-size-fits-all solution, and this study helped us see various nuances involved.”
These findings are especially important given the recent rise of telehealth. The LeadingAge Ziegler 200 (LZ 200), released in October 2021, found that 44% of the nation’s 200 largest not-for-profit senior living organizations used telehealth in 2020, up from only 20% in 2019. The research findings above can help providers understand when to use telehealth, which resident populations are most likely to benefit from a virtual care session, and how to prepare their staff and facilities.

LeadingAge CAST Telehealth Selection Tool

If you are pursuing a new telehealth implementation at your facility, check out the LeadingAge CAST Telehealth and RPM Selection Tool. It will help you identify the best telehealth solution for your organization. A white paper, interactive guide, online selection tool, selection matrix, and case studies will give you practical information and help you narrow your choices.