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The Benefits of Remote Nursing as Part of Chronic Care Management

Jon-Michial Carter
Written by Jon-Michial Carter

Since 2020, remote nursing has surged in popularity. In addition to giving patients access to care when they can’t travel to the office, remote nursing forms an essential component of preventative care programs, like Medicare’s Chronic Care Management (CCM).

The benefits of remote nursing for patients include easier access to care, assistance with Social Determinants of Health, empowerment, and cost savings. Nurses also benefit from greater flexibility, less stress from commuting, and the ability to spend more time with their loved ones. Given all of these advantages, more practices have begun to embrace programs, like CCM, that offer remote nursing. 

Benefits of Remote Nursing for Patients

Convenient Care Access

One of the greatest advantages of remote nursing is the convenience it offers to patients. Patients can ask questions about their health without needing to find transportation or take hours out of their day.

Chronic Care Management expands access to care even further through a 24/7 nurse phone line. The 24/7 nurse line allows patients to reach out to a healthcare professional any time they need immediate assistance, even late at night or during holidays.

ChartSpan nurses use Schmitt-Thompson triage protocols to determine the severity of a patient's condition and direct them to the appropriate level of care, whether that’s the hospital, urgent care, or their provider. If a patient needs to visit urgent care or the ER, the nurse will alert their primary care provider so the provider can follow up. 

For example, if a patient with chronic heart disease experiences unusual symptoms like fatigue or shortness of breath, they can immediately contact a nurse who will assess the situation and advise them on whether they need to seek emergency care. This rapid response can be life-saving and provides peace of mind to patients.

Less Need to Travel

Remote nursing reduces how often patients must travel to healthcare practices. This is particularly beneficial for people with mobility challenges or those living in rural areas. Patients don’t have to drive far distances, pay for a rideshare, or search for public transportation to receive care. 

Even if patients have reliable transportation, remote nursing ensures they can receive care during inclement weather, when they’re sick, or, as COVID-19 demonstrated, during a pandemic.  

CCM, in particular, gives patients the option to engage in preventative care every month, without driving in dangerous conditions or taking time away from work and other activities. Patients can discuss their care goals and any changes in their health regularly, preventing exacerbation of their conditions. 

Efficient Care with Shorter Wait Times

Remote nursing often provides more efficient care. In CCM programs, patients can engage with their care coordinator from their homes at their exact scheduled time, rather than leaving early to travel to the practice and then spending time waiting. 

Some CCM vendors even offer patients the opportunity to schedule their monthly calls, so they know exactly when they’ll occur. Similarly, when a patient has a question or urgent need, they have immediate access to care through the 24/7 nurse line. They do not have to leave a voicemail at the practice and wait for a call back. 

This efficiency is particularly valuable for managing chronic conditions, where frequent check-ins are essential. A CCM program ensures patients have access to the monthly, preventative healthcare they need to manage multiple chronic conditions without having to drive to and wait at their provider’s office every month. 

Continuity of Care

Continuity of care is crucial for managing chronic illnesses effectively. CCM’s remote nurse line ensures that patients have consistent access to their healthcare team. 

CCM care coordinators can also update patients’ care plans each month and notify providers when patients call the nurse line or bring up a concern during their monthly call. This process ensures that care coordinators, patients, primary care providers and specialists all have critical information about the patient’s health. 

Mental Health Support

Remote preventative care programs, like CCM, often check in on patients far more frequently than patients’ providers can. For example, CCM care coordinators reach out to patients every month, which allows them to form deeper relationships and provides multiple opportunities to notice a mental health concern.

If a care coordinator notices their patient is struggling, they can direct the patient to educational resources, therapists, or support groups. They can also help the patient set up an appointment with their provider to share their concerns and discuss treatment options. 

Social Determinant of Health Assistance

Just as ongoing remote care makes it easier for care coordinators to recognize mental health needs, regular preventative care can help care coordinators recognize when patients are struggling with Social Determinants of Health. Patients are sometimes more comfortable asking for assistance from someone who calls every month than from a provider they only see a few times a year. 

If a patient lacks safe housing, transportation, or sufficient, nutritious food, their care coordinator can direct them to community resources like housing agencies, car services for seniors, and food pantries. The care coordinator can also follow up regularly to see if the patient was able to access those resources and if they still need assistance. 

Patient Empowerment

Chronic Care Management and other remote healthcare programs empower patients by providing them with educational resources via text, mail, or email. Some programs also offer care plans patients can access online. 

Patients can set their own care goals and see their progress toward those goals, which fosters a sense of ownership and accountability. For patients with chronic conditions, this empowerment leads to higher patient satisfaction, better treatment adherence, and improved clinical outcomes. 

Cost-Savings for Patients and Medicare

Remote nursing offers significant cost savings for Medicare and for patients, particularly those in Chronic Care Management programs. ChartSpan data shows that CCM saves $2,457 per patient, per year, on average. 

These savings include $889 less spent on inpatient stays and $73 less spent on emergency department visits. Fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits saves money for patients and Medicare and improves patients’ quality of life. 

Benefits of Remote Nursing for Nurses

The Option to Work from Home

While remote healthcare programs exist primarily to serve patients, they also offer benefits for nurses and other healthcare professionals. Remote nursing allows many nurses to work from home, a flexibility that is particularly beneficial for nurses who have children, who live with disabilities, or who have limited transportation options. 

A care coordination nurse from ChartSpan, Stephanie Ellsworth, said one of her favorite aspects of her job is that, “ChartSpan provides the luxury of working from home, but remaining socially connected balances my life evenly. The company also provides the opportunity to extend my friendships beyond state lines.” 

Remote nursing also allows healthcare practices to tap into a broader pool of nursing talent. Nurses who might be unable to work in traditional settings due to geographical limitations or personal circumstances can share their knowledge with patients remotely. 

Addressing Nursing Shortages

The healthcare industry often faces nursing shortages, which can lead to increased workloads and stress for nurses. Remote nursing helps alleviate this issue by enabling nurses to see more patients without being limited by where they live. This expanded capacity empowers healthcare systems to serve a larger patient population, improving access to care for many patients.

Nursing shortages can be especially challenging for in-house programs, like CCM, that require nurses and care coordinators to check in with patients on a regular basis. Many practices simply don’t have enough nurses to give every CCM-enrolled patient 20 minutes or more of care each month. Remote nurses and care coordinators can help meet these care needs and expand a CCM program’s capacity. 

Lower Stress Levels and Less Risk of Burnout

The ability to work from the comfort of their own home, avoid long commutes, and have more control over their schedules contributes to a healthier work-life balance for many nurses. This positive work environment is crucial for maintaining their mental and emotional well-being, which ultimately benefits the patients they care for.

Tina Hartzfields, a nurse working for ChartSpan, said remote nursing “gives me the ability to do what I have always loved doing, but without sacrificing time with my family.” Organizations that can offer nurses work-life balance are more likely to retain those nurses. 

Recruitment and Retention of Highly Talented Nurses

The flexibility of remote nursing makes it an attractive option for highly talented nurses. By offering remote work opportunities, healthcare organizations can recruit a highly skilled and dedicated workforce, which is essential for delivering high-quality care to patients. 

How to Conduct Remote Nursing

Multiple Communication Options

Although remote nursing can increase access to care for patients who live in rural areas or who struggle with transportation, it can inadvertently exclude patients who don’t have reliable Internet or a computer. This is why remote healthcare programs need to be flexible and offer patients multiple ways to communicate. For example, ChartSpan offers texting and email in addition to a 24/7 phone line. 

Follow Compliance and Regulations

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) supports Chronic Care Management and other forms of remote preventative care. However, healthcare providers must adhere to specific guidelines to protect patient privacy and ensure quality of care. 

These requirements include obtaining and recording consent from patients, tracking time spent on care, maintaining accurate care plans, and much more. Many healthcare practices choose to partner with organizations specifically dedicated to remote care to ensure their practice’s program follows these regulations. 

The Benefits of Remote Nursing for the Future

For patients, remote healthcare programs provide convenient access to care, reduce the need for travel, and empower them to take an active role in their health management. For nurses, remote healthcare programs offer flexibility, a better work-life balance, and the ability to see more patients, which helps address nursing shortages.

If practices embrace multiple communication methods and adhere to compliance requirements, remote nursing can offer accessible, effective healthcare and improve outcomes for patients, especially those in Chronic Care Management programs. To learn more about the effects of CCM, check out our report, “Empowering Healthier Lives: The Profound Impact of Chronic Care Management on Patient Outcomes.”

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