4 systems embracing virtual nurses

In recent months, several health systems have rolled out virtual nurse initiatives or said they plan to do so as a way to recruit and retain nurses. 

Healthcare leaders say virtual nursing programs come with numerous benefits, including reducing the workload of bedside nurses, and enabling those who may no longer be able to keep up with the demands of bedside nursing to remain in the workforce for longer by transitioning into a less physically intensive role. 

Four systems embracing virtual nursing: 

Editor's note: This is not an exhaustive list. 

Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth is piloting virtual nursing at five of its hospitals, in addition to the 37-bed emergency department at Fish Memorial hospital in Orange City, Fla. Under the program, bedside nurses partner with virtual nurses to ensure completion of certain tasks that don't require someone at the bedside, including general admission data forms or medication reconciliation. The system has seen improvements in nurse turnover where the programs have been piloted. At the Fish Memorial ED, turnover has declined from nearly 39 percent to 8.1 percent because of virtual nurses and other recruitment and retention initiatives. 

Fredericksburg, Va.-based Mary Washington Healthcare is partnering with telehealth company Caregility to launch a virtual nursing program at its Stafford (Va.) Hospital. The program allows nurses in a virtual hub to take questions and perform non-hands-on care through a bedside monitor. 

Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health intends to launch virtual nurses across its 88 hospitals in 26 states over the next year and half. The expanded roll out comes after a successful pilot project at Trinity Health Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, Mich. The initiative includes a floor nurse, either a certified nursing assistant or licensed practical nurse, and a virtual, on-screen nurse working together to support patients in the face of staffing shortages.

Chicago-based CommonSpirit is looking to expand its use of virtual nurses to keep nurses nearing retirement in the workforce for longer, Kathy Sanford, DBA, RN, told Becker's in December. 

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