The Cost and Efficiency of Virtual Nursing

As healthcare costs continue to rise and workforce Issues challenge existing staffing paradigms, healthcare organizations continue to look for new and innovative ways to deliver quality care and improve the experience for the patient and clinical team while simultaneously reducing costs. One such innovation is virtual nursing, a type of remote patient monitoring that allows nurses to provide patient care as a team-member, monitor patients and communicate with on-site care teams remotely. In this blog, we will explore the cost and efficiency benefits of virtual nursing for healthcare organizations.

Reduced Labor Costs

One of the most notable benefits of virtual nursing is how it can reduce labor costs by reducing both nurse turnover and overtime. Because of an increase in nurse job satisfaction, hospitals that implement virtual nursing models see a lower rate of turnover which in turn means those hospitals must spend less money on recruiting, replacing, and training new nurses. Additionally, because of the dedicated focus of the virtual nurse, there is also a reduction in nurse overtime as patient assignments once again become manageable. This Is true even with the additional labor costs of virtual nurses.

Reduced Sitter Costs

Most hospitals spend a fair amount of money on sitters, who are typically used in situations where there is a need to provide constant supervision for patients. For example, patients with a history of confusion falls, or agitation might require a sitter.

While not a top function for virtual nurses, hospitals can offset the expenses of a virtual nurse program by utilizing the technology to provide the same benefits of a sitter with fewer staff through direct observation which in turn helps the hospital from a cost avoidance perspective. Additionally, patients and their families can take comfort in the knowledge that someone is frequently monitoring their activity and that if something goes wrong someone will be aware and notify the onsite care team to respond.

Reduced Readmissions

Virtual nursing can assist hospitals to reduce readmissions, which can help save money for healthcare organizations by optimizing reimbursement and mitigating readmission penalties.  The Involvement of a virtual nurse can assist with a more thorough discharge education and medication reconciliation process. This includes taking the extra time to “dial in” the spouse, family members, and home caregivers that will assist the patient with care and compliance once back in their own setting.

Because virtual nurses can take a bit more time and focus on educating the patient and their family members, this reduces the likelihood of hospital readmission. Early evidence suggests higher HCHPS scores for the discharge process.  The explanation is easy because virtual nursing has the added benefit of helping to improve patient outcomes by increasing the amount of “attention” each patient receives with their discharge education this allows more time for questions and teach-back discussions ensuring that patients understand what Is needed to keep them from being readmitted.

Improved Care Efficiency

Having two nurses Involved with care plans and care management leads to timelier follow-up and throughput. The efficiency of the extra set of “eyes” monitoring the patient, electronic health data/Information, and lab results can lead to faster intervention and improved patient outcomes. Additionally, virtual nursing can reduce the need for patient transfers by identifying trends and intervening earlier which can save time and resources for both patients and healthcare providers.

Virtual nursing programs can help to bridge the gap between busy onsite nurse-patient assignments and the Increase in patient acuity and complexity of care by allowing direct care to dedicate their time and attention to critical thinking and complex tasks that require their hands-on attention while virtual nurses check In on the other patients, monitor orders, labs and test results.

Improved Patient Outcomes

Early evidence shows that Virtual nursing has improved patient outcomes and patient satisfaction. By providing patients with remote monitoring and support, nurses can provide a faster response to call lights and a more robust experience with questions and education needs. Additionally, virtual nursing has also been shown to reduce patient falls and other injuries thanks to monitoring and immediate communication with the onsite direct care team.

In conclusion

Virtual nursing offers numerous cost and efficiency benefits for hospitals. By reducing labor costs, reducing hospital readmissions, increasing throughput efficiency, and increasing patient satisfaction, virtual nursing can help hospitals improve care outcomes while reducing costs. Perhaps the best benefit of virtual nursing is Improving the experience for the patient and nurse. As healthcare continues to rapidly evolve, virtual nursing will begin to play a more and more important role in the transformation of nursing and someday soon become the standard model of care.