Virtual Nurse Pilot Project


Bedside nurses spend a lot of time with patients on administrative tasks and documentation, including intaking admissions data, reconciling medications and going through extensive education and discharge instructions. 

So, what if there was another fully qualified nurse who could help with those tasks, freeing up time for the bedside nurse to provide direct patient care?

That’s the idea behind a Virtual Nurse pilot project that launched recently on the Progressive Care Unit (PCU). It’s a brainchild/partnership between Patient Care Services and IS (information services), including the Digital Care Center (DCC), and it’s been a real team effort with lots of groups from all across the system supporting the project!

During the pilot, select patients will use an iPad to speak on camera with a nurse in LifeBridge Health’s Digital Care Center in Israel. These nurses are licensed to work in Maryland and, in partnership with LifeBridge Health since 2018, have provided care remotely to outpatients and those recently discharged from the hospital and emergency department. 

This pilot project looks to those same DCC nurses to provide support on the inpatient units. The virtual RNs (VRNs) will perform “non-touch” tasks to allow bedside nurses more hands-on time. This team approach aims to support bedside nurses and reduce administrative burden, as well as optimize patient education and discharge planning support.

Ten beds on the PCU will have these iPads that allow for secure two-way communication, so patients can call directly to the virtual nurses during daytime hours. The virtual nurses can also call the patients and facilitate communication with providers and bedside staff. 

The pilot kicked off a few weeks ago and will run for six months. The pilot partners will monitor outcomes and feedback from the bedside teams. If successful, the goal is to expand to other units across the system, with some planning already getting underway around discharge education and teaching at Carroll Hospital.