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Study: How Care-at-Home Helps Nurses Feel More Connected

Care at home is rapidly bringing significant and needed efficiencies, flexibility, and other benefits to healthcare. But nurses who’ve never worked within these care models sometimes voice concern that the technology will distance them from patients, and they’ll lose a feeling of connectedness.

However, according to a recent Current Health study, the opposite is true.

Healthcare providers who had previously never been involved with a care-at-home program reported feeling more connected with their patients, even compared to caring for their patients in person.

About the study

COVID-19 created an urgent need for expansion of care in the home and accompanying remote monitoring of patients, including Current Health client, the Defense Health Agency, a U.S. government organization with a global workforce of almost 140,000 civilians and military personnel.

The Agency’s COVID-19 Remote Patient Monitoring (CRPM) Pilot Program admitted 237 patients with COVID-19 between 7 Dec 2020 and 7 Dec 2021. Current Health conducted a qualitative study to understand the healthcare provider experience of launching this program. The study, A Structured Qualitative Evaluation Finds that Nurses Experience an Improved Sense of Connection with their Patients in a Virtual COVID-19 Pilot Program, was presented at the American Academy of Home Care Medicine’s annual conference in November 2022.

Study findings reveal an improved sense of connection

Unexpected positive themes emerged in the qualitative interviews—and notably, study participants were not asked directly about connectedness to patients; this feedback was shared independently and voluntarily by these participant-providers.

Nurses and healthcare providers caring for patients reported an enhanced sense of connection with their patients as a direct result of using the Current Health platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. One participant said:

…you’ll have more time to engage patients, verbalizing and reassuring patients rather than trying to go running to that medicine pull up because your doctor’s throwing more patients at you and you’ve got more orders you have to fill. So, for a lot of us we went into nursing because of education, and this gives us that opportunity to do that and then some.”

She went on to describe how much more engaged her patients are:

“So just coming from being new to it [Current Health platform] I would highly recommend it. I would tell them this is by far the most engagement that I feel like I’ve had with patients.”

Study suggests many worries are unfounded

These results are in sharp contrast to prevailing beliefs some nurses hold regarding virtual care and connectedness. Common concerns voiced include:

  • Worry about conveying empathy and establishing trust with families
  • Worry about some patients who liked the social routine of attending hospital appointments and interacting with staff on a regular basis
  • Worry about loss of human connection

According to another study participant, concerns like these simply don’t hold weight. She too, had an initial expectation that the remote care would be more impersonal than her previous work on a traditional ward—but her experience with telehealth showed the tech-enhanced connectedness: 

“…even though it seems like it would be impersonal, I develop relationships with a lot of these patients…just talking to them about their vital signs…and even just in that conversation where it’s supposed to be talking about their vital signs, they’ll start talking about personal things. And you get really attached to them, you get involved in them, and you want to make sure that they’re getting better because you know that they’ve got grandchildren, you know that they’ve got a grandchild on the way. I love it. I feel like I thought it was going to be very impersonal and very different from being in the hospital, but I find that it’s actually completely opposite…We get to know these patients.

Unlike in-person-only care models, care at home offers providers a detailed look at how patients are experiencing a disease or recovering from an illness. That window into the home facilitates more than just better clinical visibility—it facilitates a more human interaction.

When it comes to championing care at home and provider adoption, consider highlighting this aspect of your care-at-home model. Ask providers what they’ve learned about patients’ lives and health that they wouldn’t have known by relying solely on facility visits. Then circulate those stories across the care team and across the organization.

Download study.

January 13, 2023