Virtual Nursing FAQsBy: Caregility Team
As health systems seek to meet the new demands of today’s healthcare environment, virtual nursing has become a hot topic. Here we address some of the most frequently asked questions about telenursing.
What is virtual nursing?
Virtual nursing is a hybrid care model that partners bedside staff with an experienced virtual nurse resource who works from a centralized hub and helps guide and support care for assigned patients.
Should virtual nursing be staffed internally or outsourced?
Virtual nursing programs are typically staffed internally, but hybrid or outsourced models can provide relief when clinical team resources are limited. Virtual nursing programs seek to support bedside staff, not replace them. In any staffing model, building trust between bedside and virtual staff is one of the most important factors in the success of virtual nursing programs.
What makes a good virtual nurse?
Seasoned nurses with extensive bedside experience are ideal candidates for virtual nursing. Virtual nurses should be assertive yet personable, good at multi-tasking, and comfortable with technology. They should also be good problem-solvers with high emotional intelligence who are adept at picking up on nonverbal cues. Prior experience at the health system or facility will likely be more important than telehealth experience, which is one reason unit managers may encourage bedside nurses who are burned out, seeking a change, or considering retirement to consider a telenursing role.
What virtual nursing programs do most hospitals begin with?
Hospitals and health systems typically start with virtual nursing programs that take time-consuming work off the plate of bedside nurses, such as admissions and discharges. Providing relief to bedside staff early on helps to establish trust and buy-in around hybrid care models. Medication second signature and blood product verification are also relatively easy programs to stand up. Tele-sitting is another workflow many health systems begin with, as it often poses the most immediate ROI.
What staffing ratio is recommended for a virtual nursing program?
Ratios will vary depending on the responsibilities being fielded by the virtual nurse. If the virtual nurse is only doing admissions and discharges, they could take over an entire facility or multiple facilities. When telemonitoring with a clinical decision support tool, virtual nurses may monitor hundreds of patients. 30 to 50 patient beds per virtual nurse is typical of other programs. Time studies can help you determine the average time needed to complete specific tasks and inform your strategy. Consider peak usage times when evaluating staffing ratios, as needs can vary greatly from shift to shift.
What KPIs help assess the value of virtual nursing programs?
Efficiency gains are typically assessed to quantify the impact of virtual nursing programs. Conduct time studies pre- and post-implementation to determine time saved by transitioning processes to virtual workflows and the subsequent labor cost savings. Improvements to clinical measures such as patient falls, patient falls with injury, and average length of stay are other metrics to assess program value.
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