Could telehealth be the solution for the nursing shortage in hospitals? Jefferson Health thinks so

health workers wearing surgical masks stand lined up beside virtual nurse mobile telehealth units

The nationwide shortage of nurses is made harder because many nurses feel they have too many patients under their care, leading to burnout.

Nurses say their bedside time with patients is cut even shorter by necessary but time-consuming tasks such as interviewing patients at admission, typing notes, and ordering medications from the pharmacy.

Abington Hospital, a member of Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health, has piloted a program that pairs bedside nurses with a “virtual nurse” who assists with these routine administrative tasks, including discharge and answering patients’ questions.

Essentially, the virtual nurse is a mobile telehealth station that can be wheeled from room to room, ready to assist at the request of the bedside nurse, who now has more time to devote to the clinical side of care.

Jefferson Health leaders say patients and staff members gave the virtual-nursing pilot high marks. The three-month pilot cut down significantly on staffing expenses, increased the number of patients seen each day and provided nurses who desired to take a break from bedside care an alternative way to remain involved in patient support.

Now, Jefferson plans to launch a larger pilot that will include additional responsibility for the virtual nurses, such as safety observations for patients at risk for falls.

Read more at the Philadelphia Inquirer.