Two of the most transformational changes that nursing homes can make are to employ APRNs and to incorporate telemedicine into their daily operations.
Medical outcomes in nursing homes are one of the many things highlighted through the events during the COVID pandemic. After what we’ve witnessed and what our loved ones have experienced, it is abundantly clear that nursing homes need a serious upgrade and priority shift when it comes to standard procedures.
Patients who are admitted to skilled nursing facilities for post-acute care have better health outcomes when they receive follow-up care from a physician or APRN. Unfortunately, 10% of these patients never receive that care. Post-acute care patients who do not see a doctor or APRN are 2x more likely to be readmitted to the hospital or to die within 30 days of admittance in the nursing home. Without a doctor’s care, the rehospitalization rate within 30 days is 28% and the mortality rate is 14%. However, with proper medical attention, those rates are 14 and 7 percent.
Currently, 20% of hospitalized patients are sent to nursing homes for post-acute care and the average wait to see a doctor is 3.2 days for metropolitan areas but can be up to 8.1 days in rural communities. Sadly, this long wait is a major contributor to poor medical outcomes in nursing homes.
Adding APRNs to onsite staff can be a great benefit to both the patients and the operations of the facility itself. One study shows that adding an APRN to nursing staff led to 48% fewer hospitalizations and also lowered operational cost by 40%. In fact, adding an APRN to every nursing home facility would cut Medicare costs by $2.8 billion per year.
Telemedicine is another way for nursing homes to make a significant positive impact on medical outcomes. Eighty-three percent of medical issues can be treated with telemedicine if remote physicians and onsite staff work together to benefit patients. This easy access to physicians and cooperation with onsite staff can reduce hospitalization to 17% of acute encounters.
The COVID pandemic has caused the whole health industry to rush to adopt telemedicine. Our elderly citizens and the facilities that treat them do not need to be left out of these amazingly beneficial healthcare advancements.