Telehealth nursing uses technology to deliver care from nurses in remote locations to any provider’s location or hospital. Webcams, VoIP, Internet, and phone lines are used to deliver this care over any distance. Virtual nursing is still very effective despite the long-distance care relationship. The core skills of virtual nurses are consistent with onsite nurses. The responsibility of virtual nurses is to monitor patients, while the responsibilities of onsite nurses are to deliver care and be a patient advocate for care plans. Virtual nurses assist hospitals and healthcare facilities to reduce the legwork of onsite nurses and see the subtle signs and symptoms that can point to status changes. Virtual nurses are very rarely new graduates because they need to be detail-oriented and well-versed in the nuances of patient monitoring.
Virtual nurses and onsite nurses must work together to perform the highest level of care. While virtual nurses can assist with staffing difficulties, they do not replace bedside nurses altogether. The responsibilities of virtual nurses include assisting with admissions and discharges, monitoring vital signs of high-risk patients, surveying patients in real-time, and support registered nurses (RNs).
Bedside care nurses provide direct care to the patient as well as to conduct physical assessments for admissions and manage the discharge process by giving discharge instructions to patients and family. Together, virtual and onsite nurses will process documents, perform rounds on patients, respond to patients’ needs, and educating patients. When virtual nurses are used, onsite nurses can respond to emergencies while virtual nurses can maintain the regular schedule of rounds and patient monitoring. The overall goal of using virtual nursing in this way is to reduce trips to the emergency room for patients with chronic health problems.
When pilot systems were rolled out in one hospital from July 2017 to January 2018, four metrics were monitored in comparison to a baseline from October 2016 to February 2017 and goals were set in place for each metric. These metrics were readmission rate, length of stay, patient falls, and call light response (seconds).