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Virtual nursing is opening new doors

Breakout: Building a Virtual Nursing Program for Today and Tomorrow

Virtual nursing is opening new doors

Delores Gehr, MPA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, CEN, Chief Nursing Officer, Warren Memorial Hospital

Theresa Trivette, DNP, RN, CENP, Chief Nursing Executive, Valley Health

Valley Health is a not-for-profit health system of hospitals, urgent care locations, physician practices and services dedicated to meeting the medical needs of West Virginia, Maryland, and the Top of Virginia. It operates Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal, Virginia, which recently began an inpatient virtual nursing program. The successful rollout was a milestone, and Valley Health and Warren Memorial leaders see it as a starting point for more innovation.

Representatives from the health system shared some of their impressions of virtual nursing’s early successes and their vision for its future use in a session at Forum 2023. The theme: virtual nursing is an innovation that helps health systems continue to innovate.

“I think that the more that you can continue to engage the workforce in being innovative and thoughtful, we’ll come up with many use cases to come for how the technology can help support the workforce that we have,” says Theresa Trivette, DNP, RN, CENP, Chief Nursing Executive at Valley Health. “As we begin to think about virtual nursing beyond the bedside, we are thinking about what we do in our emergency rooms, what we do with our case management teams using the technology and what can we possibly look for in our home health environment so we might be able to continue to use the technology to help solve some of those problems.” 

Valley Health can already think about what’s next for virtual nursing because its initial program has been very popular with nurses and patients. It has positively impacted care delivery and patient satisfaction and is easing some of the burdens that lead to nursing burnout and staffing shortages.

“We’ve been really excited with the results that we’re already seeing from our first launch of our virtual nursing program,” says Trivette. “In the hospital where we’ve gone live, we’ve seen our employee engagement go up, with much more workforce satisfaction there. Our patients are loving it. We even had a patient say, ‘Can I take her home with me?’ So we’re seeing great success.”

Valley Health expressed excitement because it can leverage its initial virtual nursing investment and knowledge gained to help other areas of the health system.

Trivette and her colleague Delores Gehr, MPA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, CEN, Chief Nursing Officer, Warren Memorial Hospital, talked about how the hospital is using virtual nursing but urged attendees to maintain a broader view of its possibilities. Virtual nursing use cases and workflows are very flexible and are readily adaptable to various needs within a health system.

“My recommendation for organizations that are considering virtual nursing is to really be innovative and use out-of-the-box thinking regarding the solutions and the use cases that you’ll use the virtual nursing platform to solve for your organization,” says Trivette. “Each organization has its own unique needs of what it is trying to accomplish. Know your audience well, know your stakeholders well.”

Even with so many aspects of healthcare changing, Trivette believes virtual nursing has earned an ongoing role. “We’re in a time where our nursing profession is changing rapidly. I think virtual nursing is always going to be part of the future of nursing care delivery.”

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