Rhode Island

Can Virtual Nursing Can Solve the Staffing Crisis? – Scrubs

Nurses are fed up with being sick and tired. Heavy workloads, staff shortages, and severe burnout are getting worse for millions of providers across the US, but Providence Health & Services thinks it may have the solution.

Virtual care has gained prominence in the industry to redistribute the workload of caregivers while increasing the number of providers. The technology aims to help nurses care for patients right at the bedside with fewer distractions. It can also reduce the physical stress of the job to encourage more providers to return to the profession.

Engineers began by figuring out what tasks draw nurses away from the bed, such as: B. getting devices or taking notes to avoid these potential distractions when engaging with a patient. The rooms have been equipped with audiovisual equipment that allows the caregiver to interact with the patient in real time via the television.

“Bi-directional audio and video technology was installed and configured for each of the patient rooms and linked to the electronic medical record to allow the nurse to seamlessly video confer with the patient,” said Sylvain Trepanier, RN, chief nursing officer at Health System Providence.

“The team developed specific roles and responsibilities for the nurses, virtual nurse and support staff,” he continued. “Communication tools such as secure chat and wearable two-way communication devices were also used to enhance live correspondence between the virtual team and the bedside team.”

Older caregivers and people with physical disabilities can also use this technology to provide care without putting additional strain on their bodies. A record number of nurses have retired since the COVID-19 pandemic, and this approach could bring them back into the fold.

“The flexibility and variety of job roles and models of care may appeal to caregivers who are considering leaving the profession and who may not be able to work in a traditional setting,” Trepanier said. “Virtual nurses are becoming a new professional field. The hope is that this will keep nurses in the profession, improve their careers and improve retention.”

The virtual nurses have access to the bedside team’s contact information, allowing the two groups to coordinate care. The virtual provider will also accompany the nurses as part of the onboarding process. Trepanier said the results speak for themselves.

“The immediate results were incredibly promising,” he noted. “Within the first week, the virtual nursing teams and the nursing teams were working on new use cases for the model. The virtual nurses have also proven to be incredible advocates for their patients, creating an enhanced care experience. We have received overwhelmingly positive patient feedback.”

The system also provides valuable feedback on hospital operations.

“The pilot also provides perspective and data to help us answer other questions,” he continued. “We are using the data from this program to assess whether virtual care is helping to reduce mean length of stay. Additionally, we are tracking how these shifts in the skill mix may impact nurse experience, patient experience, cost of care delivery, and other care-sensitive quality indicators.”

Trepanier and his colleagues said other hospitals and healthcare systems should consider adopting this technology to improve retention rates and the experience of caregivers and patients.

“The primary care model is no longer viable given the ongoing challenges in healthcare staffing and the aging of the population,” Trepanier said. “We need to do something to address the care shortage and we are choosing to do that by innovating and redesigning the way we deliver care.”

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