Missouri health system to expand virtual nursing to 6 hospitals

Springfield, Mo.-based CoxHealth plans to expand virtual nursing across its six hospitals after a pilot program successfully improved patient outcomes and bedside nurse satisfaction, the Springfield News-Leader reported July 20.

The project started in 2022 and is expanding across the six-hospital system, according to the July 29 story. At a virtual command center, staff supports bedside nurses by observing patients and educating them and their families.

"Sometimes as a bedside nurse, the spouse comes in and visits, so you explain everything and walk someone through, then 30 minutes later, the son or the daughter shows up. They want to know, too. The virtual care nurse is helping fill that gap," Beth Polivka, BSN, RN, senior vice president and chief nursing officer of CoxHealth, told the newspaper.

Two ICU-trained nurses work as virtual early intervention specialists to thwart patients from deteriorating, according to the story. Bedside nurse ratios remain unchanged.

The virtual staffers also include hospitalists, pharmacists and respiratory therapists, according to a June health system news release. The program has coincided with a drop in readmissions, falls, central line infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections. While the technology is optional, no patients have declined it thus far.

The technology started being installed in ICU and medical-surgical units in June, with other floors to follow through the end of 2023, the release stated. Mobile units are also being made available in emergency departments.

CoxHealth is using a platform from Philips powered by artificial intelligence and clinical analytics, according to a July 27 news release from the tech company.

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