4 takeaways from the launch of UCHealth's Virtual Health Center

During a featured session at the 8th Annual Becker's Health IT + Digital Health + RCM Meeting,leaders from Aurora, Colo.-based UC Health discussed the system's Virtual Health Center that uses technology to support patient care, improve efficiency and enhance patient outcomes. 

The center includes a virtual ICU, tele-sitting, centralized telemetr, and virtual urgent care. The virtual health center also uses models powered by artificial intelligence to detect patient deterioration and sepsis earlier, leading to improved patient outcomes. The center has helped  decrease code-blue events and improved sepsis identification. The center has also produced  cost savings and improved patient safety. The center is supported by a team of virtual nurses who can monitor up to 500 patients at a time. The virtual hospital system has been successful due to top-down support, continuous iteration and a focus on solving real problems.

Editor's note: Quotes have been edited for length and clarity.

4  takeaways:

  1. Top-down support and leadership are crucial for the success of virtual nursing programs. Amy Hassell, BSN, RN, the director of UCHealth's Virtual Health Center, said UCHealth's president and CEO is supportive of innovation, which has been key to success. Having top-level support allows for the necessary resources and buy-in to implement and sustain virtual nursing programs.

    Amy Hassel: I think we're really fortunate to work in an institution where our CEOis amazingly supportive with innovation.

  2. Building relationships and finding early adopters is essential for successful implementation. Ms. Hassell highlighted the importance of finding early adopters in hospital units that are excited about the virtual nursing work. These early adopters can serve as champions and help drive the implementation and adoption of virtual nursing programs.

  3. Continuous iteration and feedback are necessary for improvement and success. Ms. Hassell emphasized the need to iterate and iterate fast, constantly seeking feedback and making improvements based on that feedback. 

    AH: You've got to iterate and iterate fast and collect team feedback and ask, 'what's working, what's not working?'Then, you've got to keep those communication loops going.

  4. Virtual nursing programs can have a positive influence on patient care. Ms. Hassell said UCHealth's  virtual nursing program has resulted in time savings per admission. This outcome highlights the potential for virtual nursing programs to improve efficiency in healthcare.

    AH: We're saving on average five minutes per admission.We're doing 40 admissions every 24 hours on those units. So there's some big time savings there.

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