The Future of Virtual Nursing: What Lies Ahead For Healthcare


Right now, in nursing, we are in the midst of a very disruptive cycle, and once we emerge and the dust settles, we will realize that this new hybridized care model will be how nursing is practiced across the board. That means that inpatient nursing practice will involve direct care nurses being responsible for and managing the patient’s care, because they are closest to the patient and will be delivering hands-on care. At the same time, the direct care nurses will be supported by nurses in a virtual or remote capacity, providing support and assistance for the care being delivered at the bedside.  

What Does This Mean For Nurses? 

Soon, nursing practice will look entirely different, so we must help incumbent nurses and nurse leaders understand these differences. How have roles changed? What are the new responsibilities? Who is accountable for what portion of patient care? We will also find that we will have to adjust the teaching of nursing students currently in the nursing pipeline because when they graduate, they will practice in an entirely new paradigm.  

The outcomes and experience will be better and more efficient for patients. The nurse’s role will once again become doable and desirable, and we will help nurses feel successful and productive. We expect some efficiencies to be gained as we move through the models and learn how to navigate accountabilities and responsibilities safely.  

The Immediate Future

This is not only a disruptive time in nursing but also a very transformational time in nursing. We are doing some incredible things, creating new teams to deliver care and new care models, and there are some great examples around the country of what is going on and how things are coming together. However, healthcare and nursing are complicated to change and challenging to explain, and that’s where we are now. Going forward, we need to develop a clear and cohesive message to nurses, healthcare leaders, and even patients to explain what the future of nursing practice “looks” like.  

The Further Future 

Virtual nurses are not intended to minimize or replace direct care nurses at the bedside; they are meant to enhance them. So, we have to think about clearly articulated business cases that allow us to create affordable and sustainable models that achieve positive results through either better outcomes or improved efficiencies that offset the additional costs. We want to simplify the nurse’s work and create an ecosystem where strong patient outcomes are easier to attain. Additionally, we have to find ways to present these ideas and properly manage the changes so that new care models stick long-term.