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Category: teleICU

Nurse Spotlight: Donna Gudmestad, MHL, BSN, RN, CCRN

Donna Gudmestad, MHL, BSN, RN, CCRN, will tell you she “took the long road into nursing.” As a college student considering her career options, Donna opted to pursue nursing based on exposure to the profession she had gained interacting with home nurses who helped care for her grandfather.

Drawing from that experience, her work as a caregiver began as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in a nursing home. Donna would go on to work as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) for six years, taking a break to start a family before ultimately going on to become a Registered Nurse (RN).

Donna Gudmestad, MHL, BSN, RN, CCRN, Director of Clinical Solutions, Caregility
Donna Gudmestad, MHL, BSN, RN, CCRN
Director of Clinical Solutions, Caregility

Roughly twenty years would pass between Donna earning her BSN in Nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University and going on to earn her Master of Health Leadership from Western Governors University. Along the way, she gained experience in virtually every facet of the patient care journey, holding nursing roles in academic, long-term care, sub-acute care, rehab, and hospital-based settings.

Perhaps most notably, Donna was among a small but growing constituency of clinicians actively working to modernize care by introducing virtual workflows at the bedside. Using the expertise she cultivated working as an ICU nurse at St. Louis University Medical Center and as a nurse manager at Mercy Virtual, Donna was offered a role as the Director of Operations leading six virtual service lines across a four-state region.

Donna currently puts her 30+ years of nursing and 14+ years of telehealth implementation experience to use as Director of Clinical Solutions at Caregility, where she works with some of the nation’s leading health systems to bring clinically sound virtual care programs to life. That includes emerging virtual nursing models.

Although virtual nursing is rightfully generating buzz, Donna observes that the concept is not new. “TeleICU is one flavor of virtual nursing,” she notes. “We have been doing medication second signature and other workflows virtually for 15 years within the critical care space.” She sees the expansion of those practices into lower acuity hospital units as a natural next step in improving patient care delivery.

“Whereas before it was a battle, COVID really opened people’s eyes to what technology can do to help nurses at the bedside.”

– Donna Gudmestad

Drawing from her experience as a clinician and virtual care forerunner, Donna is a wealth of knowledge for care teams standing up virtual programs. Her number one recommendation is to do your due diligence upfront. “Don’t stand something up and think you’re going to come back and clean it up,” Donna notes. “Do it right the first time. Decide which workflows you want to start with. What are your goals? What’s your measure of success? Align your metrics up front so you can measure your performance.”

Donna encourages leadership teams to involve bedside staff in program development early on to fully understand their challenges and build a program that adequately addresses them. “Sometimes we do things we think are helpful because we’re not in the hot seat every day,” says Donna. “The devil is in the details and bedside staff hold valuable knowledge that’s needed to really streamline workflows.”

When asked where she sees healthcare in 10 years, Donna is resolute in her perspective that virtual nursing and telemedicine will be normalized as a standard, additional mode of care delivery. “A nurse or provider will be able to come into a patient’s room virtually to accomplish much of what is done in person today,” she explains. “Peripherals and AI-supported transcription will support them, so they won’t have to type anything into their computer.”

Though critical care is destined to remain in-house, Donna sees an increased need for nurses beyond the four walls of the hospital. “A lot of care will be pushed out into the home whenever it’s appropriate,” she elaborates. “Many things can be done within the home, which more often than not increases patient comfort and reduces care costs.”

She views virtual nursing programs as practice for that future state and posits that “nursing will look very different in a decade.” That will likely entail a virtual-first engagement strategy where hands-on teams are deployed as needed – the inverse of what we typically see today. Donna is also optimistic about the broader use of AI in care delivery to make that future state possible, but notes that “with power comes responsibility.”

“Nurses have a thousand things on their plate,” she points out. “At the end of the day, the goal is to make it easier for clinicians to deliver high-quality care that is augmented by technology.”

Interested in connecting with a Caregility Clinical Program Manager to discuss your virtual care strategy? Contact us today!

Nurse Spotlight: Ben Cassidy, MBA, MSN, RN, CCRN

Ben Cassidy, MBA, MSN, RN, CCRN, always knew he wanted to work in the field of healthcare. What he may have underestimated was just how much his technical aptitude would propel his clinical career.

As an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Ben initially had his sights set on becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). But real-world experience after earning his nursing degree would lead him in a different direction.

Ben Cassidy, MBA, MSN, RN, CCRN
Ben Cassidy, MBA, MSN, RN, CCRN
Clinical Program Manager, Caregility

What Ben really sought was an unconventional path, or what he calls “the 1% job – that small, specialized field within nursing” where he could make the most difference. Entering the healthcare workforce as a newly minted RN on the heels of the HITECH Act being passed, Ben embraced opportunities to meld his clinical and technical know-how. He eventually landed at North Carolina-based Cone Health, the first hospital in the state of North Carolina to launch a teleICU program.

“I found myself in a nurse supervisor role in my 20s where I was the youngest clinician on staff by about 30 years,” Ben shares. “Medical records had recently gone electronic. I got along very well with the clinicians who were older than me because they appreciated having someone young around who was familiar with electronic medical records.”

During his tenure with Cone Health, Ben spearheaded the health system’s migration to a new teleICU solution, which brought him into the medical device side of virtual care.

The teleICU project involved replacing over 160 telehealth endpoints on an accelerated schedule carefully orchestrated to avoid interfering with patient care and creating communication pathways between Cone Health’s Epic EHR and the in-room video solution. Ben and the Cone Health team customized Epic Monitor around their current and new clinical workflows while also collaborating with Caregility to build an integration to launch the camera from within the patient’s EHR record using context-aware linking. As a result, Cone Health was able to leverage the EHR to define predictive analytics for risk, stratifying patients for early identification and intervention.

Today, Ben brings 12 years of experience in critical care and 7 years of experience in the teleICU space to his role as a Clinical Program Manager at Caregility, where he helps clinical teams integrate virtual care into hospital workflows. As an AACN-certified Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) with specialized knowledge in Virtual Nursing and medical device integration, he adds tremendous value to the Caregility team and the health system customers he consults.

“I’m passionate about using my technical skills and knowledge of the industry to help make healthcare more seamless and easier to navigate, not only for patients but for clinicians as well,” Ben shared. “As a clinician, you want a seamless flow of devices working for you so you can focus on the patient.”

“Too often, we have too many hands on medical devices and not enough hands on patients. My goal is to help change that.”

– Ben Cassidy

When asked what advice he’d give someone looking to implement a virtual care program, Ben recommended making sure you weigh all your options. “Look for a virtual care platform that supports use cases from the onset of a medical emergency through to when the patient leaves the facility – from ambulatory care to the inpatient setting and to the patient’s home. Solutions should take bedside activities off clinicians’ plates, not add to them. EMR integration is essential.”

Looking ahead, Ben sees medical device integrations playing an increasingly important role in healthcare delivery, offering clinicians new tools to identify changes in patient conditions and intervene earlier. “What we don’t need is another device that clinicians have to touch or type on, or another false alarm sounding throughout a nursing unit,” Ben shared. “Picking up patient data points without providers having to manually document them while also creating meaningful, actionable alerts is going to make it much easier for caregivers. Hopefully, in the future, if a camera sees it, you speak it, or a device senses it, the technology will capture it. We’re already seeing this in some of the new health AI solutions entering our ecosystem.”

“I also see our industry’s response to technology moving from fear to need, which is encouraging,” Ben elaborated. “There is less fear that healthcare technology will replace jobs and more open acceptance of health IT as another resource to help you do your job more effectively.”

“We’re never going to replace the bedside nurse, but I believe virtual care tools and models can help us better staff our units, reduce burnout for our nurses, and offer an alternative work arrangement to help us hold onto our more seasoned, experienced RNs. Giving them the option to be a remote knowledge resource strengthens the organization as a whole. I can easily envision a day when virtual clinical resources are integrated into every organization in healthcare.”

Interested in connecting with a Caregility Clinical Program Manager to discuss your virtual care strategy? Contact us today!