Virtual Care Programs Help to Decrease Utilization, Improve Staffing, And Reduce Burnout

The pandemic increased resource utilization, resulting in decreased bed capacity, widespread staffing shortages, and provider burnout. Despite the decrease in COVID-related hospitalizations, health systems are still dealing with staffing issues. As we look toward a post-pandemic future, hospitals are expanding their virtual care programs to provide high-quality care in the home.

Hospital staffing issues continue

An aging workforce and decline in people pursuing a career in healthcare was a rising concern, even before the pandemic. A 2018 study in the American Journal of Medical Quality estimated there would be a shortage of 154,018 registered nurses (RNs) by 2020 and 510,394 RNs by 2030.

Then, the pandemic hit. Hospitals lost nearly 94,000 employees between February 2020 and November 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In a 2021 poll from the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation, more than half of frontline health care workers surveyed said they were experiencing burnout. Despite hospital employment increasing, a severe shortage of nearly 300,000 workers still exists. In a recent survey of hospital CEOs, by the American College of Healthcare Executives, personnel shortages ranked first among the challenges hospitals faced in 2021, outranking financial concerns for the first time since 2004. Health systems are increasingly looking for innovative solutions and care delivery models to reduce workplace stress and employee turnover.

Virtual Care: Part of the Solution

Virtual and remote care programs have existed for decades, recently, these models have become an invaluable as providers seek new ways to:

Administrative tasks and non-patient facing responsibilities such as care coordination, electronic health records (EHRs) management, and paperwork burden are issues frequently cited as some of the leading factors responsible for clinician and staff burnout When implemented correctly, digital health platforms can offer a promising path forward by streamlining care workflows, reducing administrative burdens, and improving workplace satisfaction. Hospitals have moved to more broadly adopt digital health and virtual care solutions – including hospital at home and post-acute care monitoring programs – to improve quality of care, decrease resource utilization and increase patient satisfaction.

The use of artificial intelligence in virtual care

More and more virtual care solutions are leveraging artificial intelligence to improve patient outcomes. In certain technology-enabled hospital at home programs, health systems are using AI-guided platforms to:

  • Track vital signs, on-demand (24/7), and interpret data gathered through wearables
  • Conduct virtual and in-person visits to care for a larger volume of patients
  • Centralize task management and communication for a geographically dispersed care team
  • Communicate with the patient via text/talk/video
  • Utilize AI algorithms to analyze real-time data, detect changes in a patient’s condition and support clinical decision making

Virtual care programs are an innovative care delivery solution which not only optimize staff utilization, but also improve patient care and decrease costs. As health systems look beyond the pandemic, integrated and patient-centered virtual care programs will be instrumental in levaraging existing labor and resources, delivering high-quality patient care, and increasing patient and provider satisfaction.


  1. MedCityNews:
  2. American Journal of Medical Quality:
  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
  4. Kaiser Family Foundation:
  5. American College of Healthcare Executives:
  6. Healthleaders:
  7. American Hospital Association:
  8. Forbes:
  9. Medscape:
  10. Fierce Healthcare:
  11. Healthcare It News:
  12. EuroScientist:
  13. American Hospital Association:
  14. American Journal of Managed Care:

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars