Celebrating National Nurses Week: How Telehealth Can Alleviate Burdens On The Health Care Workforce

May 10, 2024

National Nurses Week is a time to celebrate the invaluable contributions of nurses everywhere. Nurses are integral to our health care system. However, often their hard work and countless hours caring for patients goes unrecognized. This has led to a nursing shortage across the U.S. that is causing a ripple effect of rising health care costs and lower quality of care. One way that has proven to alleviate burdens on the health care workforce, including nurses, is telehealth. 

The most prominent issue driving the nursing shortage and health care worker crisis is burnout, which is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a “high degree of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a low sense of personal accomplishment at work.” A 2022 study of over 50,000 RNs and licensed practical or vocational nurses revealed that nurses felt the following either “a few times a week” or “every day” – a sense of depletion (56.4 percent), emotional exhaustion (50.8 percent), fatigue (49.7 percent), and burnout (45.1 percent).  Permanent telehealth access can help to reduce provider burnout, leading to less health care worker turnover. 

According to a recent survey, 78 percent of health care practitioners agree that being able to provide telehealth services from practitioner-convenient locations would “significantly reduce the challenges of stress, burnout, or fatigue.” Another survey found that 36 percent of physicians reported improved work-life balance through telehealth integration. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), telehealth can reduce the long hours spent on routine health cases in clinics, promoting efficiency and reducing stress on health care workers.

Telehealth also makes health care more accessible, especially in rural areas. However, most health care workers reside in cities, creating inequitable access to care in rural areas. Enabling clinicians to work remotely can expand the potential pool of providers available to serve rural areas, easing the burden of health care workers in urban areas.

Expanded access to virtual care supports chronic disease management, making it easier for both the patient and the provider. Remote patient monitoring allows for providers to monitor patients between office visits and adjust their treatment based on real-time data and trends. This benefits health care workers by decreasing the time in which potential patient setbacks are noticed, receive proactive care that prevents problems from escalating, and allowing providers to work within a schedule that prioritizes those who need immediate care. 

It is evident that telehealth is a vital tool in reducing burnout and helping to alleviate burdens health care workers face. As we recognize the efforts and sacrifices made by our nurses and address the nursing shortage, it’s critical that we protect the telehealth flexibilities that are set to expire at the end of this year without unnecessary restrictions. 

Learn more about how Congress can act now to safeguard access to telehealth HERE.