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Infection Control Problems Persist in Nursing Homes During COVID


The new analysis draws on self-reported data from nursing homes collected by the federal government over four weeks from late August to late September. While some states fared much worse than others, all 50 states and the District of Columbia had one or more nursing homes that reported inadequate PPE supply, staff shortages, staff infections and resident cases. Forty-seven states reported at least one COVID-19 death among residents.

The analysis found that more than 28,000 residents tested positive for COVID-19 during the four-week reporting period, and more than 5,200 residents died, showing that the virus is still raging in nursing homes. More than 84,000 long-term care residents and staff have died since January, and more than 500,000 residents and staff have contracted the disease, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s tally, accounting for roughly 40 percent of the national death toll. Long-term care providers include assisted living, adult day care centers and more, while AARP’s new analysis features just nursing home data.

“This is a nationwide crisis, and no state is doing a good job,” says Bill Sweeney, AARP’s senior vice president of government affairs, adding that the results of AARP’s analysis are “profoundly disappointing.”

“While the pandemic has been unexpected to all of us, basic infection control should have been going on in nursing homes for a long time,” he says. “These are places where people are vulnerable to infection, whether it’s COVID or something else, so for these facilities to still not have basic PPE, even now, with a deadly virus in the air, is outrageous and unacceptable.”

Staff infections nearly match resident infections

For months, providing adequate PPE and developing plans to mitigate staffing shortages have been “core principles” set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for COVID-19 infection control in nursing homes, which generally house older adults with underlying conditions who are at increased risk of infection and severe illness from the disease. PPE stops the transfer of infectious droplets through the air, while adequate staffing ratios mean better care and less person-to-person contact.

Yet in 18 states, more than 30 percent of all nursing homes reported PPE shortages, and in 26 states and the District of Columbia, more than 30 percent of nursing homes are experiencing staff shortages. N95 respirators were the most in-demand PPE item across the country, with 11 percent of all nursing homes reporting shortages. And nursing home aides (certified nursing assistants, nurse aides, medication aides and medication technicians) were the most in-demand staff, with 27 percent of all nursing homes reporting shortages.


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Telehealth Patient Satisfaction Surges During Pandemic but Barriers to Access Persist, J.D. Power Finds

Amwell Ranks Highest among Direct-to-Consumer Brands; Cigna Ranks Highest among Health Plans

Telehealth has emerged as one of the bright spots in the “new normal,” giving patients the ability to meet virtually with healthcare providers from the safety and comfort of home. However, the technology is still experiencing growing pains. According to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study,SM released today, patient satisfaction with telehealth services has been increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but several barriers to access still exist for many patients, including those most at risk.

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J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study (Graphic: Business Wire)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a moment of truth for telehealth, and, by most accounts, the technology is rising to the challenge and delivering a high degree of satisfaction among those who use it,” said James Beem, managing director of global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power. “However, even though the public awareness with Telehealth is higher due to the influence of COVID-19, the barriers for the consumer to engage with the technology has been a consistent theme in our research.”

Following are some key findings of the 2020 study:

  • Great patient experience: The overall customer satisfaction score for telehealth services is 860 (on a 1,000-point scale), which is among the highest of all healthcare, insurance and financial services industry studies conducted by J.D. Power.

  • Barriers to access persist: Though telehealth has been pitched as a solution to improve access to healthcare for everyone, more than half (52%) of telehealth users say they encountered at least one barrier that made it difficult to use telehealth. The most common hurdles are limited services (24%); confusing technology requirements (17%); and lack of awareness of cost (15%). Additionally, 35% of telehealth users indicate they experienced a problem during a visit. Tech audio issues (26%) are the most common problem.

  • At-risk patients have lower levels of satisfaction: Overall satisfaction is 117 points lower among patients with the lowest self-reported health status than among patients who consider themselves to be in excellent health. Similarly, healthier patients are significantly more likely to understand the information provided during the visit, receive clear explanations, feel their visits are highly personalized and obtain a high-quality diagnosis.

  • Safety becomes a top driver of utilization: Among patients who used a telehealth offering this year, 46% say their top reason for choosing telehealth was safety. That compares with just 13% in 2019.

Study Rankings

Amwell ranks highest in telehealth satisfaction among direct-to-consumer brands, with a score of 885. Doctor on Demand (879) ranks second.

Cigna ranks highest among payers of health plan-provided telehealth services with a score of 874. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (867) ranks second and UnitedHealthcare (865) ranks third.

The J.D. Power U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study, now in its second year, measures consumer satisfaction with their telehealth service experience based on four factors (in order of importance): customer service (42%); consultation (28%); enrollment (19%); and billing and