Leadership Change Needed to Address Impending Nursing Shortage in Virtual Carerealm

Healthcare providers are taking proactive steps to address the predicted shortage of nine million nurses worldwide by 2030. At the HIMSS24 preconference Virtual Care Forum, experts discussed the shift towards virtual care and virtual nurses to combat staffing shortages and enhance patient care.

Trinity Health’s senior vice president and chief health informatics officer, Dr. Murielle Beene, and chief nursing officer, Dr. Gay Landstrom, highlighted the benefits of the health system’s innovative TogetherTeam Virtual Connected Care approach. This approach integrates virtual nursing and team-based care to support direct care staff and increase patient engagement.

Patients under this model receive care from a direct care registered nurse, an on-site nursing assistant or licensed practical nurse, and a registered nurse providing virtual support. These stakeholders work cohesively to ensure comprehensive care delivery, with virtual nurses located on local campuses for easy access to medical records and advanced camera technology for examinations.

Dr. Beene emphasized the mentoring and support provided by experienced virtual nurses, benefiting new graduate direct care nurses. Data collected from this approach has revealed increased efficiencies, impacting colleagues, patients, and the organization positively.

Dr. Landstrom noted the importance of supporting staff resilience after challenging pandemic years and emphasized the need to build processes that enhance the therapeutic relationship between the care team and the patient. Leveraging technology within the EHR system and connecting with patients visually and auditorily have been integral to this shift.

In response to these needs, Trinity Health reprogrammed their system to include a button for patients to easily connect with a virtual nurse, improving access to care. Hiring retired chief nurses with expertise in relational coordination and educational design has helped coach units through these changes.

Overall, the adoption of virtual care and virtual nurses has been met with enthusiasm from patients and staff, leading to a more engaging and efficient care delivery experience.

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