Virtual Nurses: An innovative approach to staffing shortages

Virtual Nurses: An innovative approach to staffing shortages

Nurses are leaving the workforce in record numbers and patient safety may be at risk. According to a survey by Nurse.org, 80% of nurses say their units are “inadequately staffed.” Before COVID-19, the typical ICU patient-to-nurse ratio was 1:1 or 2:1. Today, it’s 3:1 or even 4:1. It’s a significant concern for nurses and one of the top reasons they consider leaving their job.

 

According to the American Nursing Association, nearly 500,000 nurses are expected to retire by the end of 2022, leaving a shortage of around 1.1 million nurses.

 

Many forward-thinking hospitals have turned to virtual nurses to help mitigate the impact of the nursing shortage. Since most providers have implemented some form of telehealth since the start of the pandemic, virtual nurses can be a viable next step.

Virtual Nurse Cover Image

How does virtual nursing work?

Virtual nurses are often remote nurses that provide 24/7 observation and communication at the patient’s bedside using specialized telehealth technology. This technology can include devices such as smart TVs or medical carts equipped with two-way audio/visual capabilities. This allows the virtual nurse to observe and communicate with the patient and collaborate in real-time with bedside nurses for more effective care coordination and timely interventions.

One of the most significant benefits of using virtual nurses is that more patients can be cared for with fewer resources. ICU patient monitoring is a great example. Caring for critically ill patients requires greater clinical expertise and around-the-clock monitoring. Virtual nurses can work from a centralized ICU monitoring station where they can monitor multiple patients in multiple ICU locations from a single “command center.”

Virtual nurses can also help prevent falls. According to the AHRQ, close to one million people in the U.S. fall in hospitals each year. Virtual nurses can notify floor nurses when they observe a patient trying to get up unattended. The virtual nurse can also talk with the patient to let them know that help is on the way.

 

How to choose a virtual nursing solution

Not all virtual nursing solutions are alike. To be most effective and ensure the highest quality care, it is essential to look for turnkey solutions that are customizable and leverage the latest telemedicine technology. The following list provides an overview of the capabilities hospitals should look for.

  • Allows the use of a hospital’s existing devices, such as tablets, medical carts, stands, and smart TVs
  • Provides simple-to-use onscreen “one-click” buttons for easy communication between the virtual nurse and the patient or others in the room
  • Enables audio-only or both audio and video communication
  • Seamlessly integrates with existing audio and video infrastructure
  • Supports quick scaling to accommodate fluctuation in patient census
  • Enables virtual nurses to monitor multiple patients at the same time on the same screen
  • Includes zoom functionality for better observation and enhanced patient engagement
  • Supports virtual rounding and real-time communication between staff, providers, specialists, patients, and the patient’s family
  • Integrates into existing EMR and other hospital systems
  • Offers 4K and 5K displays

 

Virtual nursing solutions enable on-demand virtual consultations between the care team to help inform more timely, effective decision-making.

 

Where to begin

The first step in implementing virtual nurses is to choose the right technology solution for your organization. VidyoHealth can help.

VidyoHealth’s virtual nursing solution—VirtualSitter—is designed for hospitals and health systems that need a turnkey solution that is scalable, flexible, and can be integrated into an existing network of audio and visual equipment. VirtualSitter can be deployed through readily accessible hardware that works on any desktop, browser, tablet, or mobile phone.

With VirtualSitter, nurses can easily monitor multiple patients simultaneously on the same screen from any location. Communicating with patients is also easy, with onscreen buttons for audio-only or audio-visual calls. A simple-to-use zoom tool allows for better observation and enhanced nurse-patient engagement.

The VirtualSitter solution enables virtual nurses to invite family members, providers, or specialists to join a conference via an onscreen email/SMS invitation. There’s even a “doorbell” alert to let patients know a conference is about to begin. There is also a privacy option that patients can choose when they’d like privacy.

Unlike other virtual nursing solutions, VirtualSitter delivers custom workflows tailored to your organization’s unique needs, coupled with the reliability, interoperability, and scalability needed for today’s constantly changing healthcare environment.

Virtual Patient Monitoring

The time to act is now

Having the right level of nursing coverage with the most qualified nurses helps ensure patient safety and optimal outcomes. Leveraging virtual nurses presents an excellent opportunity to do just that, especially in these challenging times. The fact is, we don’t know when, or even if, staffing levels will ever return to normal.

With VidyoHealth’s virtual nursing solution—VirtualSitter—providers can easily reach more patients with fewer resources. Learn why more than 4,000 healthcare providers trust VidyoHealth for their telemedicine needs. Visit www.vidyohealth.com.

7 Ways Video Healthcare Solutions Can Improve Patient Outcomes

7 Ways Video Healthcare Solutions Can Improve Patient Outcomes

The quick pivot to telehealth during the pandemic served as an eye-opener for the healthcare industry. We learned that virtual encounters could provide the same level of care as in-person encounters in most cases. We also learned that patients like having telehealth as an ongoing option.

Now that providers have returned to in-person appointments, many are wondering whether to make telehealth a permanent part of their service offerings going forward. That decision is often based on reimbursement models alone, without considering how telehealth might improve patient outcomes and value-based care payments. However, the answer becomes clear when putting patients first in this decision-making process. Video healthcare solutions can positively impact patient outcomes and reimbursement alike.

Chronic disease management

More than 70% of our nation’s total healthcare spending and 93% of Medicare spending go toward caring for patients with multiple chronic conditions. Most of these costs are related to “acute care hospital, and emergency department (ED) visits that could be prevented with earlier intervention.” For example, research has shown that for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, remote patient monitoring via telehealth can reduce hospitalizations by up to 35% and ED visits by 68%.

Leveraging video healthcare solutions along with wearable and remote devices help both patients and providers. Patients benefit from more timely and consistent health management, and providers benefit through increased reimbursement for improved outcomes.

Post-discharge care

Nearly one in five patients experience an adverse event within three weeks of being discharged from a hospital or ED, most of which are preventable. These events can lead to readmissions, trips to the emergency department, or worse. With video healthcare solutions, providers can continuously monitor and evaluate patients during this critical time to ensure they remain stable and well on their way to healing. If problems are detected, providers can quickly intervene to prevent complications.

 

ICU monitoring

Caring for critically ill patients requires a high level of clinical expertise and around-the-clock monitoring. Yet, with ongoing staffing shortages, it can be challenging for hospitals to staff their critical care departments fully. Providers can mitigate this challenge using video healthcare solutions to create a centralized ICU monitoring station. This technology allows clinicians to monitor multiple patients in multiple ICU locations from a single “command center.” This way, providers can allocate fewer resources without compromising care quality for their most vulnerable patients.

doctors having video healthcare meeting

Falls prevention

More than 700,000 people fall in U.S. hospitals annually, resulting in approximately 250,000 injuries and close to 11,000 deaths.  According to the CDC, around $50 billion is spent each year on medical costs associated with non-fatal fall injuries, and $754 million is spent on costs related to fatal falls.

Video healthcare solutions like VirtualSitter can help prevent falls by intervening. For example, a bedside monitor allows telesitters to see patients as they’re trying to get out of bed. Within seconds, they can notify a bedside clinician or floor nurse that the patient needs assistance. At the same time, the telesitter can inform the patient that help is on the way.

 

Rural healthcare

More than 46 million Americans—15% of the population—live in rural areas. Yet, only 8% of our nation’s physicians and surgeons choose to practice in rural communities.  According to the CDC, up to 25% of those living in rural areas say there are times when they haven’t been able to get the care they need.  Because of the lack of access to timely care, along with economic and lifestyle factors, rural populations are much more likely to suffer from chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer, strokes, and lower respiratory diseases, as well as unintentional injuries/death, than their urban counterparts.

Video healthcare solutions can improve access to timely care for these underserved communities. They remove roadblocks like distance and lack of transportation by enabling providers and specialists to get the care they need right at home. In this way, these solutions are helping to address healthcare disparity, reduce costs, and improve population health.

 

Mental healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic escalated the mental healthcare crisis in the U.S. The number of adults reporting feelings of anxiety and depression rose from 10% in 2019 to more than 40% in January 2021. Even before the pandemic, access to mental health resources was a significant problem with limited options and long waits to see a provider.

Video healthcare solutions can eliminate these obstacles by bringing mental healthcare to individuals when and where it’s most convenient for them. It can be challenging for patients to prioritize their mental health for many reasons, including social stigma, lack of providers in their area, requesting time off work, or finding childcare. These solutions provide a significant benefit by enabling more patients to get the care they need through convenient and discreet video appointments.

 

Care collaboration

High-quality clinician collaboration is a critical part of high-quality patient care. It can reduce medical errors and improve outcomes by enabling everyone on the care team—regardless of location—to work together on patient care. These solutions allow the inclusion of specialists and providers from disparate locations, as well as the patient’s family. This way, the patient can get the most appropriate care right where it’s needed.

female doctor treating patient with chronic disease through telehealth

Choosing the right video healthcare solution

Most providers already have a telehealth solution, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most effective solution for their organization. A long-term telehealth strategy requires video healthcare solutions that can meet the provider’s needs both today and into the future. VidyoHealth can help.

VidyoHealth provides video healthcare solutions that are built for end-to-end digital healthcare delivery. We help providers easily reach more patients across the care continuum. Our Virtual Care Platform is a flexible, scalable, and intuitive solution that enables providers to deliver fast, easy, and reliable virtual care experiences regardless of the patient’s location. This expands a provider’s outreach and brings much-needed care to those previously without access, like those living with mental health conditions or those located in rural areas. The Virtual Care Platform also enables more effective, timely collaboration between providers, specialists, and other clinicians through virtual rounding or bedside consults.

The VidyoHealth VirtualSitter solution enables around-the-clock monitoring of vulnerable patients, like those in the ICU or those at risk of falling. VirtualSitter also supports the remote management of patients who have just been discharged from the hospital or those living with chronic conditions. With VirtualSitter, clinicians can easily monitor multiple patients simultaneously on the same screen from any location. Conferencing with patients is simple, with onscreen buttons for audio-only or audio-visual calls. An easy-to-use zoom tool allows for better observation and enhanced clinician-patient engagement. And VirtualSitter makes it easy for clinicians to invite family members, providers, or specialists to join the conference via an onscreen email/SMS. There’s even a “doorbell” alert to let patients know a conference is about to begin and a privacy option patients can choose when having confidential conversations with family or friends.

VidyoHealth requires no technological investments, making it easy to get started. Providers can choose the deployment solution that works best for their unique requirements.

Learn why more than 4,000 healthcare providers trust VidyoHealth. Visit www.vidyohealth.com.

Virtual Nurses are Combatting Adversity for Rural Healthcare Services

Virtual Nurses are Combatting Adversity for Rural Healthcare Services

Countless studies on the impact of telehealth and virtual nurses have emphasized the assumption that it enhances safety for both patients and providers. There is also the opportunity to expand services without geographical limitations and enhance care services in rural communities. Due to the few specialists located in rural areas, telemedicine has the potential to resolve countless hurdles these communities face for even basic healthcare services.

Telehealth provides care to chronically ill patients with the ability to receive long-term care from the best expert available to them, without debilitating costs of relocation, travel, leave from work, or childcare. Patients can get the care they need without putting the rest of their life on hold.

In 2020, RN turnover rose to 18.7% due to side effects from burnout. The string of events that have contributed to this nursing shortage is due to many factors. But we want to focus on the elements that we can control, and that is providing nurses with the tools to empower their abilities to offer effective care, without spreading themselves too thin.

These statistics also emphasize hospitals’ lack of resources in case of scenarios such as a pandemic, or any use case that uses up hospital resources suddenly. Thanks to virtual nurses, we can create incentives for nurses retiring or suffering from burnout, with part-time remote work. Something that has not been an option for them in the past.

 

Virtual Nurses: are they supporting overburdened nurses?

A common misconception about E-sitters and remote observation is that it replaces in-person nurses. However, 1:1 patient sitting can be a substantial expense to the hospital, and it also uses up valuable nurse time that could be allocated elsewhere.

By implementing a virtual nurse solution, one nurse from your rural facility can observe up to 16 rooms at a time, instead of having one physical nurse monitor each room. This saves time, enhances productivity, reduces falls and injuries, and improves nurses’ workflow.

This reallocation of scarce resources allows your healthcare team to provide effective care to patients and help reduce the substantial wait times we are seeing for care services. The goal of E-sitters is to maximize the efforts our nurses are putting in each day, as opposed to replacing their roles.

For a fully transparent look at telehealth services, below is a case study by Anderson J and Singh J, they outlined a SWOT analysis on telemedicine and determined the following:

  • Strength:
    • Protect the health and safety of staff and patients
    • Maintain continuity of care
    • Expanded services and remote monitoring services
  • Weakness:
    • Patient and staff comfort with technology
    • Lack of buy-in from staff that will perform telehealth
    • Reliability of audio-video technology used to complete telehealth visits
  • Opportunities:
    • Ability to offer consultative services data
    • Alternative clinical scheduling models
  • Threats:
    • The end of the public health emergency and 1135 waivers that allow IHS to offer this service
    • Internet connectivity and speed in very rural low-income areas
Virtual Nurse Services

How Virtual Nurses are Empowering Healthcare Providers

There are countless articles, statistics, and papers that explore the benefits of virtual nurses and remote observation. However, something that is commonly overlooked is how these features directly help our nurses, and how they work to aid them in this ongoing nursing shortage.

 

Cost Savings

The upfront costs associated with virtual nursing technology may seem daunting, especially if you do not have much experience with these solutions already. However, remote observation can save hospitals hundreds of thousands by reducing patient falls, sitter costs, and nurse injuries. These cost savings can be reallocated to better resources for the hospital and continue to invest in technology that will enhance care services and reduce the burden many nurses are experiencing.

In terms of additional revenue for hospitals, according to The Rural Broadband Association (2017), telemedicine and virtual nursing technology can increase revenue for rural hospitals, due to revenue from more medical services staying in the local economy. Their study estimates that not only can each facility see up to $150,000 in additional annual revenue, but patients can also save approximately $10,000 in saved travel expenses, saved wages, and miscellaneous costs in traveling for care services. Telemedicine and E-sitters are an invaluable asset in keeping revenue in rural communities and benefiting the local economy.

 

Patient Experience

Nurses directly benefit from patients having a positive experience. When healthcare staff are not overburdened and are backed with the necessary support to provide adequate care, they can educate their patients and build more quality connections.

Virtual nurses help provide 24/7 patient observation without the feeling of invasiveness. Patients also have the option to select a privacy setting when they need it. Several online studies have found that telemedicine technology can help reduce patients’ length of stay. One of the primary reasons for this is the ability to detect symptoms in their preliminary stages and avoid further deterioration.

Virtual observation technology is not limited to monitoring the patient’s stay, it can also provide collaboration opportunities with care specialists across the country. This feature enables rural facilities to offer the best quality care to patients in their local community, rather than sending them to larger hospitals that are hours away. The ability to stay closer to home is another benefit for patients and may improve their mood during their stay. It also saves patients thousands in travel to specialist facilities or foregoing the treatment they need, which is common for residents in rural communities.

 

Enhanced Workflow

This type of technology goes beyond basic observation. Healthcare professionals are equipped with tools that improve their existing workflow and help them stay on track during their rounds. Nurses can view patients’ records and past notes left by providers, and they can also add their notes and images for future reference. Nurses can also categorize patients by the severity of their symptoms, to better determine who needs the most attention. This combination of features saves nurses valuable time which is crucial to provide the best possible care to patients.

 

Staff Retention

Virtual Nurses can ease the substantial stress that is weighing on the healthcare industry. As you can see based on the points listed in this article, this technology alleviates nurses’ workflow, provides up-to-date technology to enhance care services, and saves the hospital in costly 1:1 sitter costs. Although telemedicine does not fix the burnout that healthcare professionals are experiencing, it does offer more options and can alleviate their workload.

Virtual nursing technology provides nurses with the ability to work remotely and makes hybrid work a possibility. Nurses can now offer virtual services via audio-visual technology and reduce their workload temporarily rather than be forced to take personal time due to burnout.

This enhanced implementation of technology can also extend nurses’ careers, by working remotely instead of retiring straight away. It also means that valuable knowledge from the older generation is not lost when they reach retirement age.

 

Are you ready to implement virtual nurse technology into your workflow?

The VidyoHealth team has worked diligently to support a wide variety of healthcare providers implement their telemedicine solution, that meets their needs and provides them with the support they need. Our team believes that to enhance the patient’s experience and continue to enhance the healthcare industry, we need to support the staff working persistently around the clock. Contact a Telehealth Expert today, to discover how telemedicine will benefit your facility.

4 Steps for Deciding to Implement Telemedicine in Prisons

4 Steps for Deciding to Implement Telemedicine in Prisons

According to a paper from the National Institute of Justice (2002), when implementing telemedicine in prisons there are 4 key steps to follow. And although this outline was originally published 2 decades ago, the message still holds. Of course, due to the widespread use of telemedicine and technology in general for many industries, these steps may be substantially more relaxed in today’s world.

Telemedicine in Prisons chart

Step 1: Conduct a medical requirements analysis.

According to the National Institute of Justice (2002), the guide we will be referencing in this article states that when deciding to implement a telehealth program in prisons, it’s best to start with an analysis of the prison demographic and overall needs. 

Demographic

By collecting demographic data on the prison population, those in charge can accurately predict the best options when implementing new policies. This practice is commonly used in governments and corporations. This is a crucial first step when implementing a telehealth program, to determine where to allocate your budget and predict what features you require to meet your population’s needs.

Facility Health Statistics

Reviewing statistics in your healthcare facility will outline factors like your healthcare provider’s workload, demand from inmates, and how much outsourcing your facility requires. These 3 factors are common hurdles that telemedicine technology can substantially improve. Similar to your demographic analytics, this will help you determine what telemedicine features will help fill in gaps in your current healthcare offerings.

Consultation Statistics

During this stage, you will assess the quality and efficiency of your consultations. Some questions you need to answer are, what is the average duration of your consultations? How often do you have consultations? Are your in-person physicians meeting inmates’ medical needs? What are the costs associated with your consultations? Is there a substantial wait time for a consultation? Answering these questions can help break down some of the discreet costs of your healthcare system, and whether telemedicine in your prison can help reduce them.

Step 2: Evaluate the level of health care satisfaction within the target population.

When implementing telemedicine in prisons, statistically, your existing healthcare offerings may appear satisfactory. However, it’s valuable to record any flaws from the people using these services. A great place to start is to review previous comments and complaints, survey staff and inmates, and if possible, public records and media articles on experiences with these services.

These data types listed above can help you determine what areas of your services are working, and what areas telemedicine can help improve. After you have completed steps 1 and 2, you can determine what your goals and objectives are for your revised services.

Step 3: Review alternate solutions.

Once you have collected relevant data on your inmates, their medical needs, and the strengths and weaknesses of your healthcare services, you can then determine the best options available to you. With clearly defined objectives based on information gathered from steps 1 and 2, you will have a clear vision in mind regarding what needs you must address.

Some indicators that telemedicine may be a fit for your existing workflow are long wait times for patients, overworked providers, extensive travel to experts outside of your facility, or risk of contracting viruses. Implementing telemedicine in prisons helps to improve workflows, enhance collaboration with inmates’ family members and medical professionals, reduce costs and allow for 24/7 observation without a 1:1 patient sitter.

There is also the possibility that after conducting steps 1 and 2, you may conclude that telemedicine services won’t benefit your specific use cases and there are different shortfalls you need to address.

Step 4: Develop and implement an action plan and milestones.

After conducting steps 1 – 3, you should have an understanding of the main problems you need to solve and what telemedicine features stand out to you. By this stage, after consulting with several telehealth companies to determine which companies’ offerings and prices best align with your objectives, it’s ideal to plan out how you need to prepare to implement the telemedicine program in your prison.

Some questions you and your team need to answer are where will we be using and storing the devices? What additional medical devices do we require from this solution? Do we need to upgrade our existing technology to meet our objectives? How much training will our staff require before and after we install this technology? Do we need to make substantial modifications to our existing facility?

By answering these questions, you will be able to establish a timeline to guarantee to the integration of this telehealth technology goes as smoothly as possible. It will also give your staff sufficient time to train and prepare.

 

Telemedicine in Prisons: What are my Options?

Once you start your journey to implement telemedicine in your prison, you will realize that regardless of your specific needs, there are some features that are non-negotiables. Here are a few examples:

  1. HIPAA compliance
  2. High-quality audio-visual technology
  3. Customization abilities
  4. Seamless integration and deployment

When implementing new healthcare technology, you want to feel confident that it will benefit your existing workflow and meet your patient needs. Connect with a Telehealth Expert today to start your journey and find out why more than 4,000 providers choose VidyoHealth.

How to Leverage a Virtual Health Platform to Improve Outcomes and the Patient Experience

How to Leverage a Virtual Health Platform to Improve Outcomes and the Patient Experience

Consumers are the new payer. And now that they’ve taken on more of the financial responsibility for their healthcare, they’re demanding the same level of service from their healthcare providers as they have in other areas of their lives. They want convenience, easy access to information, and an emphasis on quality.

This has historically been a challenge for our disjointed healthcare delivery system where data exists in silos within organizations. How can providers and clinicians to work together on the patient’s behalf when it’s so difficult to share information like medical history, imaging studies, and test results at the point of care?

Getting patient information often requires clinicians to log into multiple systems to search for the data, or they must manually contact other providers via phone or fax to request the information. These time-consuming processes are frustrating for providers and patients alike and can delay care. Those delays in care can lead to complications, visits to the emergency department, or hospitalizations. The result is higher costs and poorer outcomes.

The challenges of care collaboration and access to information is especially difficult for clinicians providing virtual care to patients located at home or in other care settings. There must be a better way, and there is. It’s called a virtual health platform.

A virtual health platform enables clinicians across the continuum to seamlessly access the information they need within one system. From an EMT responding to an emergency and the staff in an emergency department, or a primary care provider, specialist, and bedside nurse determining a patient’s treatment and care plan, a virtual health platform allows everyone to work together no matter where they’re located. 

This type of collaboration and sharing of information reduces the need for multiple assessments and tests since everyone has the same information at every patient encounter. This, in turn, enables more timely, effective care.

doctor using virtual health platform

Choosing the Right Virtual Health Platform

 

When choosing a virtual health platform, it is important to look for one that supports multiple use cases. Following are three capabilities that should be included.

Virtual Health Monitoring. The best solutions are those that enable telehealth technology that is simple to implement and easy to use for clinicians, patients, and the patient’s family. For example, clinicians in an emergency department should be able to quickly connect with specialists at the patient’s bedside for timely assessments. Because a virtual health platform allows the specialist to have full access to the timeliest patient information, a diagnosis and treatment plan can be created without waiting for an in-person visit from the specialists.

Streamlined Patient-provider Encounters. Digital tools like a patient-provider portal can facilitate a better care experience. With a virtual health platform, patients can connect with their provider in a secure app on their mobile phone. Be sure to choose a solution that doesn’t require complicated downloads or logins to use the portal. Connecting should be as easy as pushing a single button.

When choosing a virtual health platform, be sure the solution gives providers the ability to access the patient’s record within the app during the patient visit. This reduces the need for the provider to have to take notes and chart the encounter later. The best solutions allow clinicians to order tests and write prescriptions while they’re talking with the patient. This helps improve the patient-provider relationship and ensures timely access to care. 

Actionable Insights. One of the greatest values of a virtual health platform is its ability to provide in-depth insight that enables continuous improvements—both operational and clinical. Be sure to look for a solution that offers data analyses on encounters and appointment types. This should include insights into locations, providers, specialties, and top procedure and diagnosis codes. Clinical outcomes analysis should incorporate patient populations and specialties. The best solutions will also provide insight into reimbursement data, revenue and payer mix, as well as reimbursement by provider, payer, diagnosis, and location.

doctor clicking on a virtual care platform

A Platform-enabled Patient-Centric Approach

A virtual health platform is the bridge that closes gaps in care by allowing clinicians across the care continuum to collaborate on a patient’s behalf more effectively. It is important to note, however, that not all platform solutions are alike. Be sure to choose one that delivers fast, easy, and reliable virtual care experiences with streamlined clinical workflows. VidyoHealth is a great choice.

The VidyoHealth Virtual Health Platform optimizes an organization’s existing telehealth technology by augmenting video visits with structured workflows that can stand alone or be fully integrated within their EHR. Because of minimal implementation time and maximum functionality out of the box, health systems can get started quickly and to realize faster return on their investment.

For health systems looking for ways to increase efficiencies and scalability of their direct-to-patient telehealth programs, VidyoHealth’s virtual health platform is the answer.

Skip to content