Vanderbilt University Medical Center rolls out virtual nursing with plans to expand

Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center has launched its first virtual nursing program with plans to expand in the future.

The project went live July 17 and is being piloted on the 36-bed Ventricular Assist Device and Transplant Unit, a step-down unit for heart patients. Up to three virtual nurses — from a staff of 11 with experience on the unit — work 24/7 to help with admissions, discharges and rounding, appearing on patients' TV screens.

The virtual nurses first "knock" and ask patients if they are OK with participating in the program and being on camera. If they agree, the high-resolution camera is turned on; otherwise, it remains off and pointed at the ceiling.

The virtual nurses are located in a conference room two floors above the actual unit. Vanderbilt uses vendor for the technology.

"Once again, Vanderbilt nurses are creating a new, innovative care model that engages a multidisciplinary team, with the shared goal of improving patient and family care and nurse satisfaction," Executive Chief Nursing Officer Marilyn Dubree, MSN, RN, said in an Aug. 11 news release. "Congratulations to the entire team that is making the next generation of nursing care possible."

The medical data said it is monitoring data on patient satisfaction, nurse workload and quality to guide future virtual nursing expansions.

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