How Will Increased Remote Work in Healthcare Impact Both Employees and Patients?

Some jobs just can’t be done from home. Teachers do their best work in classrooms surrounded by students. Salespeople continue to value the personal face-to-face relationships that fuel their success. And try ordering a cappuccino from a barista who is working from home.

For a long time, it was assumed that healthcare workers fell into this same category of employment. They had to go into their workplace because that’s where all the patients are, right?

It turns out, there are a lot of tasks nurses and other healthcare professionals can do from home. In this article, we take a look at the rise of remote work in the world of healthcare.

Who Gets to Work From Home?

Hospitals have enormous administrative staffs. When you drive past a city hospital that is tall enough to poke at the moon, it’s natural to wonder just how many people are sick in this town. Is it safe to even be here?

Fear not! While much of this large hypothetical building is dedicated to patient care, an equally large portion of it may be serving an administrative function. Desk work that can just as readily be done from home.

Many are surprised to learn that nurses, doctors, and nurse practitioners are also getting the opportunity to work more from home. No, that doesn’t mean seeing patients in their dining rooms.

“Frontline healthcare workers,” as they are often called do not only see patients. That is an important part of their jobs, but they also do a lot on their computers, documenting details and performing other paperwork requirements.

A recent study found that nurses working twelve-hour shifts often only spend a quarter of that time in patient rooms. The rest of the time they are parked in front of the keyboard.

The implication of this figure is complicated. Just because nurses aren’t always in patient rooms does not necessarily mean they aren’t needed on their floors.

Healthcare workers know all too well that things on the job are peaceful— until they aren’t. When patients need help, they can’t wait.

Most hospitals don’t have the option to significantly reduce their staffing assignments to allow for more at-home work.

However, they do have the option to play around with “flex hours,” letting those who can complete some of their work at home under more flexible circumstances.

Below, we take a look at how this might impact healthcare.

Improved Productivity

The technology that allows people to work from home has existed for a long time. Working from home failed to catch on during the early stages of the Internet partially because many worried it would harm productivity.

After several years of almost standardized remote work, it’s safe to say that the productivity myth has been thoroughly debunked.

In many cases, people actually get more done at home than they did at the workplace. Offices—or hospitals as the case may be— are full of small but potent productivity killers. Desk conversations. Meetings that could have been emails. And we can’t forget the commute.

Most people spend thirty minutes each way just driving to their jobs.

Remote work can and often does cut the fat out of a person’s work routine. For healthcare workers, this means that they will have more time and energy to devote to the important aspects of their job— choices that directly influence patient outcomes.

Easier Recruitment

The potential to work from home is still a rare and enticing benefit in healthcare. Consider this development from the perspective of a rural hospital that has struggled to fully staff its floors. They simply can’t convince new nurses to move out into the country for a job when they could just as easily find work closer to home.

But if they could leverage a hybrid schedule in their recruitment efforts? This may be enough of an enticement to win over members of a generation who are more focused on work/life balance than any other employment consideration.

Improved Job Satisfaction

That’s the ultimate goal of hybrid work schedules. Today’s employers are constantly competing on quality of life grounds because that’s what modern employees want— and because it is often cheaper than leveraging higher salaries.

The remote work movement has been generally well-received in how it provides people with improved work/life balance.

Improving job satisfaction for doctors and nurses can go a long way toward reducing unsustainable turnover numbers.

Potential Problems

Remote work hasn’t been perfect. Common issues include technical difficulties—if a person’s WIFI cuts out, that simple issue can kill an entire day’s worth of productivity— loneliness, and balancing the schedules of people who live in all different parts of the world.

Most of these major remote work issues don’t pertain to the hybrid work environment that most healthcare facilities are implementing.

That doesn’t mean that remote work in healthcare will be painless. It’s new and “new,” often means challenging.

However, the circumstances for a successful rollout are certainly present.

How Will Patients Be Impacted?

All of the benefits described above should trickle down to patients. Burnout is a very real problem and one that can have a MAJOR impact on job performance. When doctors and nurses feel less stress, they will almost always engage more effectively at work.

This can have a very big impact on future patient outcomes.

Why Now?

Healthcare shortages are still very real. The United States labor market has seen wages cool off as the economy finally rebounds completely from Covid. Hospitals that were offering sometimes fairly large salary increases to attract new employees have largely stepped back from that strategy.

They need to leverage incentives to attract employees and the potential to work from home is a (relatively) easy way to do that.

It’s also an effective one. Burnout is such a major cause of turnover and remote work can help alleviate it.

Wage stagnation certainly should not be the consequence of this move, but if hospitals want to find more ways to entice doctors and nurses to stick around, this is a good way to do it.

The benefits will undoubtedly be passed down to the patients as well.

Less burnout means less stress. Less stress typically means better patient outcomes. Right now, remote work seems like an effective way to address so many of the issues plaguing Western healthcare.


With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.