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OCHC highlight: Virtual models of care address workforce challenges

Successful pilot spotlights benefits

by Oracle Cerner

Published on 10/17/2022

The healthcare industry continues to face workforce challenges due to limited care team resources and increasing demand for healthcare. Organizations are working hard to manage the resources they need to provide services while also supporting their frontline caregivers experiencing fatigue and burnout.

At the 2022 Oracle Cerner Health Conference keynote, Nasim Afsar, MD, chief health officer of Oracle Health, spoke about four health systems currently piloting the new Oracle Cerner virtual models of care. These adaptive models help organizations implement innovative deployments of people, processes, and technology to address workforce challenges. In one model, virtual nurses perform the in-depth, often time-intensive assessment and documentation at admission and discharge through audio and video communication tools, freeing up bedside nurses to focus on caring for patients.

The goal is to help bedside nurses, who work tirelessly on behalf of patients, to have time to demonstrate the human compassion that inspired them to pursue a calling in healthcare. In addition to addressing caregiver sustainability, it’s important to track quality metrics to identify all the benefits of virtual nursing.

Streamlining administrative processes to cover more with limited resources

Virtual models of care can help streamline administrative processes, like admission and discharge, while helping improve overall hospital operations by removing inefficiencies and shifting time, resources, and quality care to other patients.

Implementation doesn’t require a huge investment in new technology. By strategically restructuring clinical workflows using virtual models of care, healthcare providers can empower care teams to cover more ground. Digitizing and automating existing tasks can help minimize workload strains, while providing flexibility and much-needed relief.

After a successful pilot, we are working with clients to explore putting virtual nursing into practice. In this model both an in-person and a virtual nurse concurrently prepare a patient for admission. While the floor nurse reviews orders and performs a physical assessment, the virtual nurse helps coordinate admission activities such as updating allergies, medical history, and medications. To help make the patient’s transition home smoother upon discharge, the virtual nurse also reviews orders and documentation, delivers discharge education, and checks if a pharmacy is documented.

Creating workforce flexibility and sustainable careers

“In addition to streamlining the information the care team needs, we’re thinking deeply about the future of our workforce and how we can ensure thriving and sustainable careers,” Afsar said. “Some nurses left the profession particularly during the pandemic and new virtual care models could bring people back into the workforce.”

Virtual care models offer more flexible hours for caregivers with a mix of virtual and bedside. Implementing virtual care workflows and technology can also help reduce nursing cognitive burden, frustration, and inefficiencies, and has the potential to reinvigorate the workforce.

With the increasingly complex demands of the healthcare field, it’s vital we equip our care team members with the tools and support they need so they can thrive in their field and provide better care for patients.

Learn more about virtual models of care.