Image of clinician speaking remotely with older adult patient via a desktop computer

Most post-acute care leaders are dissatisfied with their current clinician provider coverage, but some say that virtual care such as telehealth has helped them to increase care quality, according to a new survey.

The survey, from virtual health provider TeleHealth Solution, queried a pool of 100 respondents, nearly half of whom were nursing leaders (48%), along with CEOs and CFOs, and 35% of whom represented post-acute skilled nursing facilities. Other respondents hailed from critical access hospitals and rural acute care hospitals.

Almost 70% of post-acute respondents said they experience wait times of more than 10 minutes after an acute change in a resident’s condition, and 80% reported being dissatisfied with the level of access to providers. Notably, neurologists — a top dementia care provider — topped the list of hard-to-reach specialists for respondents overall, followed by behavioral health and cardiologists, surveyors from Sage Growth Partners reported.

Respondents also were asked about burnout among staff members. Those in post-acute care said that healthcare provider access issues did not contribute to high levels of nursing burnout. These leaders believe that workforce shortages and growing patient demand are the biggest burnout triggers for their nursing staff.

Telehealth a plus — when it can be integrated into workflow

Trends in telehealth usage show an increased focus on treating patients in place and accessing hard-to-reach specialists, according to the surveyors. But about one-third of organizations said that they do not have the ability to integrate virtual care into their clinical workflows. And among post-acute providers, only 13% said yes when asked “Does your virtual care platform integrate with your EHR?”

Nearly half of those who do use a telehealth platform said that it was a plus for patients and residents. Overall, 31% said that virtual care use has “somewhat increased” the quality of their organization’s patient care, while 15% said virtual care has had a “significant impact” on care quality. (The metric deemed most important for determining care quality was the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Five-Star Quality Rating.)

About half of these respondents also said that virtual care has boosted both patient satisfaction and their organization’s revenue, investigators reported. One quarter said that they had seen an increase in revenue after instituting virtual care. And nearly all (94%) post-acute facilities said treating patients in place is important for advancing revenue goals.

Approximately 40% of these respondents said that they plan to increase virtual care use post-pandemic as they attempt to drive further quality improvements.

The survey can be found here.