How Kaiser Permanente nurses monitor, give patients advice via telehealth

As big health systems have turned to virtual nursing to help with staffing shortages and reduce administrative tasks for nurses, Kaiser Permanente has taken a slightly different approach. The Oakland, Calif.-based health system has its nurses communicate with patients via telehealth.

Kaiser Permanente's telecritical care nurses can look into hospital rooms and respond to patient emergencies, notifying telecritical care physicians or hospital staff about, say, an unresponsive patient sitting in a chair.

"These quick responses and resulting teamwork are critical to reviving patients," a Kaiser Permanente spokesperson emailed Becker's. "Telehealth is integrated into our care model and is one way that our nurses deliver convenient, high-quality care as a standard and seamless part of care delivery."

After the health system piloted the program in two of its northern California hospitals in 2019, it experienced drops of 17 percent in intensive care unit mortality, 13.9 hours in ICU length of stay, and 28.5 hours in total hospital stays.

Kaiser Permanente also has telehealth-powered advice nurses that answer member questions through its Appointment and Advice Call Center, directing them to the care they need, whether that's the emergency department, a physician or pharmacist consult, or an appointment with their provider.

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