Telehealth increases nurses' workload

MU study shows telehealth doubles the tasks nurses complete to assist patients with chronic diseases.

June 1, 2021


Brian Consiglio: Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, patients have increasingly used  telehealth technology, which allows patients to visit with their health care providers virtually instead of in person.

While telehealth has been extremely convenient for patients, particularly in rural communities where access to health care can be limited, what often gets overlooked is the work being done on the back end by nurses to assist patients managing chronic diseases.

In a recent study, MU doctoral student Chelsea Howland reviewed the activities nurses complete to assist diabetic patients during traditional, in person appointments compared to the tasks completed by nurses when assisting diabetic patients virtually via in-home, telehealth devices.

Howland: “What I found was the patients who received in-home monitoring, so they had an in-home monitoring system to look at their blood sugar and blood pressure, the nurses interacted with them more and the nurses performed twice as many nursing activities, so this is important for us to explore in relation to workload and workflow.”

Consiglio: In the midst of a nationwide nursing shortage, Howland’s research can provide the framework for quantifying the increased burden telehealth places on nurses as they try to integrate these new systems into their daily routines, with the ultimate goals of employee satisfaction and improved patient care.

Howland: “Getting an understanding about the nurse activities so we can make informed decisions about nurse-to-patient ratios or nurse-to-caseload ratios is really important because it can allow us to use our time to the best of our ability. We want to be able to provide excellent patient care, and we want nurses and other staff who are satisfied and don’t feel overwhelmed at their job.”

Consiglio: For more on this research, visit

I’m Brian Consiglio, with a Spotlight on Mizzou.

Learn more about the research here

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