Virtual Nurses, The nursing workforce shortage is a serious challenge for the nation’s healthcare system. To cope with this issue, Honor Health, a Valley-based healthcare provider, is using technology to enhance the quality of care at one of its hospitals. At John C. Lincoln Medical Center in Phoenix, patients receive assistance from both in-person and virtual nurses. These virtual nurses can monitor rooms and communicate with patients via a large television screen.
How virtual nurses work
According to Dr. Kathi Zarubi, Honor Health’s chief nursing executive, the virtual nurses can handle administrative tasks while the in-person nurses focus on delivering the actual care. “Sometimes these administrative tasks can get in the way of that [care],” Zarubi said. “This model has given our nurses the time back they can use at the bedside.”
The virtual nurses also have a minimum of five years of experience and can share their skills with the in-person staff in real-time. This is especially important for safety reasons, as many new graduate nurses lack the experience to deal with complex situations. “We have a lot of new graduate nurses in our hospital environments now,” Zarubi said. “Which is awesome, we love our new grads, but they just don’t have the experience yet sometimes.”
Benefits for patients and staff
The pilot program of using virtual nurses at John C. Lincoln Medical Center has shown positive results for both patients and staff. Honor Health uses “Patient Experience Scores” to measure how patients feel about the quality of care they receive, and these scores have increased since the program started. Zarubi explains that this makes the hospital setting better for everyone involved. “Being a nurse, of course, I’ve always said: ‘Happy nurse, happy patient,” she said.
Future of healthcare innovation
The program is also a direct result of the changes in healthcare introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, where health professionals relied more on technology and virtual visits to deliver care to patients. Zarubi says she expects these changes to continue and says Honor Health is looking for ways to innovate the typical healthcare settings. “Can we continue to do things the same way and get the same results?” Zarubi said. “I think the healthcare environment is changing, we have got to change with it.”
Stay tuned for more updates and news on technology.