The use of telehealth at nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic not only reduced stress for some residents, but also increased access to convenient care. But there were some downsides.

The pandemic caused nursing homes to rapidly change their policies overnight. Telehealth was instantly adopted widely in an effort to reduce stress on the health care system by keeping residents safe and avoiding unnecessary transfers to already-overwhelmed hospitals.

Researchers interviewed nursing home clinicians and administrators from a sample of 700 nursing homes across the country to better understand the benefits and challenges of widespread telehealth adoption.

“Transporting a resident to the hospital can be a very traumatic and stressful experience,” says Kimberly Powell, an assistant professor in the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing.

“Whether it’s a fall in the middle of the night or a sudden change in vitals, if a nurse can quickly hop on a Zoom call with a resident and make an assessment, perhaps an intervention plan can be developed that allows the resident to be treated in the nursing home, which saves time, money, and an unnecessary transfer to the hospital.”

Still, there are other impacts to consider. While telehealth offers unprecedented convenience, it can also remove much needed socialization opportunities for older adults, and even create confusion for nursing home residents with cognitive difficulties.

Read the full article about telehealth during COVID by Brian Consiglio at Futurity.