Among those who were hit the hardest by COVID, nursing homes and their residents are at the top of the list. Being a nursing home resident or employee in 2020 was generally a harrowing experience with some of the worst death rates and worst staffing shortages in the nation. Where telemedicine helped the rest of the healthcare industry to keep trucking along without hesitation, nursing homes were often left in the dust. Nevertheless, nursing homes are some of the places where telemedicine could prove to be the most useful.
Patients who enter a nursing home for post-acute care are two times more likely to be re-hospitalized or even to die within 30 days if they are unable to follow up with a doctor. The average time it takes to see a doctor is 3.2 days for facilities in metropolitan areas, but 8.1 days in rural areas. This means that the median stay for these patients is just 11 days with a 28% rehospitalization rate and 14% death rate if they don’t have timely access to a doctor.
With the use of telemedicine, large nursing homes could augment care, enabling 24/7 access to physicians; and smaller facilities could also connect with physicians day and night, even if they are unable to employ them onsite.
Telemedicine could mean the difference between life and death for many nursing home patients.