Telehealth can affect staff retention and job satisfaction

The three-year study conducted by the Pennsylvania Homecare Association and Penn State University is designed to evaluate how telehealth affects not only patient care, but also home health’s ability to continue providing care during the nursing shortage. In addition to looking at agency workloads, this study assessed home health nurses’ attitudes towards their jobs and their response to telehealth. A total of 1,241 surveys were distributed to home health agencies participating in the study with a total of 629 surveys returned. Respondents were asked to score their responses on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high).

Results included:

  • Job satisfaction was high, with an average score of 4.18.
  • Nurses’ involvement in telehealth activities is low, with an average score of 1.9. The majority of nurses report they perform telehealth activities less than once per week. This can be attributed to the fact that many agencies use a small core group of nurses to perform telehealth activities.
  • The average score for perceived usefulness of telehealth is 3.57. The longer the home health agency has been using telehealth, the more useful the nurses perceive it to be.
  • Overall, nurses indicate organizational support for telehealth is in the midrange with an average score of 3.76.

Study coordinators also looked at the relationship between telehealth and nurse retention rates. A measurement of the annual turnover rate for each of the 34 participating home health agencies was taken.

Data show the following:

  • Voluntary turnover rates for RNs in this sample of home health decreased from 17% in the first year of the study to 13.4% in the second year.
  • The lowest turnover rates were found in home health agencies that have implemented telehealth — estimated at 11% as compared to 19% for agencies without telehealth.

Source: Pennsylvania Homecare Association, Lemoyne, PA; December 2004.