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Tech-infused care: virtual nursing eases staff shortages with technology

Tech-infused care: virtual nursing eases staff shortages with technology

In response to the ongoing challenges in healthcare staffing, Jefferson Health and UC Health have pioneered virtual nursing programs, leveraging technology to enhance patient care and alleviate the burden on frontline healthcare staff. These initiatives not only address the staff shortage but also redefine the way patients receive care in hospitals, providing valuable references for modern healthcare centers

Jefferson Health's virtual nurse program

Jefferson Health, a leading healthcare provider in the region, has introduced the Virtual Nurse Program, a cutting-edge model of care that combines the efforts of bedside nurses with remote virtual nurses. Under this initiative, each patient is assigned a bedside nurse, and some patients also benefit from the support of a virtual nurse who works collaboratively with the bedside nurse.

Colleen Mallozzi, SVP, Chief Nursing Informatics Officer at Jefferson Health, highlighted the program's potential: "The virtual nursing model allows us to leverage technology to improve patient care, reduce length of stay, and provide additional support to our bedside nurses."

Virtual nurses actively engage in patient check-ins, rounding, admission and discharge paperwork, patient and family education, care consultation, and electronic health record documentation. Patients communicate with virtual nurses through HIPAA-compliant audio-visual devices in their hospital rooms, ensuring secure and private interactions.

Laura Gartner, Division Director, Clinical Informatics at Jefferson Health, emphasized that virtual nurses complement bedside nurses, working together to ensure the highest quality of patient care. The program's initial pilot, conducted from March to June 2023, demonstrated success with over 100 patient interactions within the first few weeks. Plans are underway to expand the program to include tele-observation/virtual safety care and provider-to-provider e-consults.

The Virtual Nurse Program is an integral part of Jefferson's comprehensive nursing workforce optimization strategy, which also includes initiatives like the Nurse Emeritus Program and Nursing S.E.A.L. Team.

UC Health's AvaSure partnership

In 2016, UCHealth in Colorado recognized the challenges posed by population growth and embarked on a virtual care journey. Seeking to alleviate pain points for frontline staff, UCHealth partnered with AvaSure, a market leader in the virtual sitting space, to implement a virtual sitting program called "Safety View."

Virtual sitting aimed to reduce labor costs associated with 1:1 sitters and prevent patient falls. The program has proven successful, replacing an average of 70% of 1:1 sitters and reducing fall rates by up to 60%. This initiative has not only driven significant labor cost savings but also resulted in a 30% increase in the identification of confirmed cases of sepsis.

UCHealth's virtual nursing oversight program has further improved sepsis detection by two hours and led to a remarkable 25% to 70% reduction in code blue events. Rapid response rates to deterioration events have increased, ranging from 26% to 86%, depending on the location. The program has also allowed for enhanced patient monitoring during the post-event period, leading to a 39% to 152% increase in vital signs being ordered.

UCHealth estimates that 786 lives have been saved by the virtual nursing program, showcasing the significant impact of leveraging technology to enhance patient care and support healthcare staff in managing critical situations.

These pioneering virtual nursing programs represent a transformative shift in healthcare delivery, providing a blueprint for other healthcare centers to address staff shortages and improve patient outcomes through innovative technology-driven solutions. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, these initiatives serve as beacons of progress in ensuring the highest standards of care for patients.

Source: Jefferson Health, AvaSure


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