By Jennifer Melham
The healthcare landscape is rapidly evolving, and with it, facilities must do this too, to fulfill their staffing needs as well as to protect patient safety. Part of this evolution is the integration of virtual care technology.
Chief Nursing Officer at Medical Solutions, Patti Artley, sheds light on the essential factors healthcare facilities should consider when implementing virtual nursing, including whether virtual nurses should stay in the hospital, what to consider cost-wise, and the benefits of virtual nursing.
One of the key insights shared by Artley is the strategic placement of virtual nurses, highlighting the need to be proactive in preventing them from being pulled away from their virtual roles to fill staffing gaps, which can compromise the reliability of the virtual care model.
She says the most successful virtual nursing programs take virtual nurses out of the hospital.
Examining the Costs
The growing market of virtual platforms is exciting, but it’s important to note that adopting virtual technology is a significant investment. Integrating technology, training, and making operational adjustments requires a heavy financial commitment. Acknowledging this front-line expense is essential for successful implementation.
“My advice to facilities considering this is to do your due diligence to look at what it takes to have a successful virtual nursing program and the investment you’ll be making.” – Patti Artley
Strengthening Support and Alleviating Workload
While there are potential obstacles to success for any change a healthcare facility may make, there will always be benefits. One of the benefits of virtual care technology is that it provides a unique opportunity to enhance the capabilities of support staff and mitigate the demands placed on bedside nurses.
By incorporating virtual nursing solutions, healthcare facilities can effectively distribute tasks, ensuring that patient needs are met and, therefore, patient outcomes are improved. This shift in the workload enables nurses to focus on critical in-person interactions and increase the overall quality of care.
Elevating Patient Safety
Virtual nursing helps to enhance patient safety in more than one way—first, it increases the ratio of healthcare staff to patients. Rather than having just one registered nurse responsible for their care, each patient has two.
Virtual care technology allows the clinicians behind the technology to diligently monitor things like vital signs, detecting even the most subtle changes in a patient’s condition. This can lead to early intervention and communication with the bedside nurse and attending physicians caring for that patient.
Medication reconciliation is another important feature of virtual nursing. The collaborative approach that virtual care technology enables means both the bedside RN and the virtual nurse can collectively assess a patient’s medication regimen, identifying possible redundancies or inconsistencies as needed.
Through direct engagement with bedside nurses, virtual nurses can aid in orchestrating comprehensive patient assessments and meticulously examining the various factors of the patient’s wellbeing. The virtual nurse can be the second nurse, validating skin assessments and sterility of fields, plus they can be witness to information shared.
The impact of virtual nursing on the healthcare landscape has been transformative thus far and will continue to be so long as the healthcare systems behind it implement it in strategic ways. Virtual nursing empowers nurses to channel their capabilities and excel in their roles, practicing to the top of their license and contributing to staff retention.
Medical Solutions is here to address your strategic staffing needs by providing managed services, travel, local, and per diem contracts, international travel, and more! Contact our team today to learn more about our healthcare talent ecosystem and the services we provide.
Jennifer Melham is a Content Specialist for Medical Solutions.