Taking a strategic approach to virtual nursing: The top 3 do's and don'ts

The persistent nursing shortage has pushed many hospitals and health systems toward innovative nursing models as a means to maximize staff, improve patient satisfaction and reduce costs.

But there's a lot for healthcare leaders to consider before implementing technology platforms, such as virtual nursing, to address these issues.


In a recent interview with the Becker's Healthcare Podcast, FJ Campbell, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Nashville, Tenn.-based Ardent Health Services, and Bonnie Clipper, BSN, Founder and CEO of Innovation Advantage, shared clear and compelling guidance to help healthcare organizations approach virtual nursing strategically.

With insights and lessons learned from Ardent’s virtual nursing pilot and perspective on key use cases for virtual nursing and pitfalls to avoid, the key takeaways below reflect their top "do's" and "don'ts"


  1. Approach virtual nursing as simply (and quickly) implementing video conferencing capabilities with tools like tablets and mobile carts
    1. Doing so adds more work for overburdened bedside caregivers to locate, sanitize, provide technological support, etc.
    2. Your organization will be less likely to address the larger paradigm shift in care models, long-term enhancements of new workflows and simplicity of system integrations needed to transform care
  2. Be wedded to your legacy systems
    1. Many established vendors are rebranding existing technology platforms and services as virtual nursing but may not be agile enough to iterate quickly, integrate appropriately and execute at scale to meet rapidly evolving market needs. 
  3. Select a vendor that is just a "one trick pony" for limited use cases
    1. Opportunities for improving additional clinical and operational workflows are plentiful, and wasting time on the wrong technology or partner out of the gate will quickly become limiting and put you behind.
    2. Introducing virtual nursing as yet another point solution will add complexity and cost, versus a platform approach that will minimize disparate products for related use cases such as virtual sitting, falls prevention, staff safety, voice capture for documentation, hand hygiene compliance, quality and regulatory reporting and more


  1. Lead with trusted, experienced nurses from your own organization to serve as the virtual nursing team
    1. The quick win for bedside nurses is easing their workloads and reducing burden, with confidence that those tasks will be done timely and completely, while also yielding the greatest ROI for your organization.
    2. This approach also will help to retain your most senior nurses and attract new bedside nurses.
  2. Think transformatively to embrace a paradigm shift in care delivery
    1. Reimagine new care models broadly powered by virtual inpatient care, including not only nursing but also virtual attending physicians, virtual intensivists and more.
    2. Recognizing that basic, inpatient virtual visits soon will be table stakes, select a technology partner that ensures virtual nursing is operationally enhanced and optimized for quality, safety and compliance with embedded continuous ambient monitoring and artificial intelligence. 
  3. Collaborate with peers to accelerate and reduce risk in the journey
    1. To cut through the increasing noise on this topic, a group of industry leaders have recently launched an emerging thought leadership hub. Healthcare leaders who are considering implementing or are in the process of piloting virtual nursing can check out virtualnursing.com and register to connect with like-minded peers, curate relevant content and share experiences.

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