Virtual nursing has emerged in recent years as a transformative approach to healthcare, leveraging online platforms to manage and treat chronic diseases. According to an article from Healthcare IT News, more than 88% of hospital chief information officers and other IT leaders have plans to increase investments in technologies to boost efficiency and reduce waste while improving the quality of care and clinical outcomes. This includes tech such as artificial intelligence, telehealth, remote patient monitoring (RPM), precision medicine, and more.
In this article, we’ll be diving into how telehealth, in the form of virtual nursing and RPM, capitalizes on technological advancements to provide efficient and accessible care and its role in the management of chronic conditions.
The rise of virtual nursing
Virtual nursing involves the use of digital technologies to deliver healthcare services remotely. This encompasses a wide range of activities, from virtual consultations and remote monitoring to telehealth interventions. CEO and founder of Equum Medical Dr. Corey Scurlock sees it as a response to the growing need for healthcare delivery models that are proactive and technology-empowered, signaling a shift to how hospitals approach patient care.
Dr. Scurlock further emphasizes that this approach is necessary for bridging geographical barriers, ensuring that even patients in remote areas can access specialized care without the need for physical travel. In the context of chronic disease management, virtual nursing becomes particularly relevant, offering continuous support and monitoring.
Online management and treatment of chronic diseases
In the US, where nearly 46 million people reside in rural regions, and almost half of all adults live with a chronic disease requiring constant surveillance, telehealth has become integral. Virtual consultations have enabled healthcare professionals to assess symptoms, discuss treatment plans, and provide timely guidance without patients having to come into the office. Other digital health technologies dealing with administrative aspects such as online scheduling, bill payments, and text reminders are also making healthcare more convenient and accessible to all.
For instance, a patient with glaucoma may receive care through a video conference with a healthcare provider to evaluate whether an eye problem is a genuine emergency or can be treated with a prescription for antibiotic eye drops.
The provider OPSM allows individuals to book eye tests online, combining the convenience of digital scheduling with the necessity of in-person examinations. TeleHear provides online hearing consultations, virtually bringing doctors of audiology into retail clinics across the US as well as directly into patients’ homes.
Virtual nursing in remote patient monitoring
Virtual nursing and RPM have also been applied in a 30-day pilot program seeking to determine whether chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy could be safely administered in an outpatient setting. Preliminary findings presented at the American Society of Hematology’s Annual Meeting in 2023 suggest that this shift allowing patients to recover at home enhances their experience and reduces the risk of hospital-acquired infections.
The study involved a standardized outpatient management approach using RPM platforms, engaging patients daily with virtual nurses, and in-person clinic visits during the initial high-risk period. The results demonstrated 80.7% wearable device adherence, with better compliance at night and 100% blood pressure reading compliance achieved by 98.8%, underscoring the feasibility of safely managing CAR-T patients in the outpatient setting through a virtual care RPM platform.
In the case of diabetes patients, RPM and virtual care programs have become vital for managing their conditions. As a chronic condition, diabetes is a more costly condition to treat, especially if it’s poorly managed. RPM studies have shown that using home monitoring devices to track and manage HbA1C (blood sugar) in between doctor’s visits reduces ER visits and hospital stays and helps patients maintain their HbA1C levels more consistently. Virtual nurses can play an important role by being the ones to monitor data and alert patients and providers, so busy on-site staff are not burdened.
The future of virtual nursing
While most healthcare providers are in agreement that telehealth is an overall net positive, some argue that it lacks continuity of care. Dr. Zeshan Shaikh, a GP based in Australia, stresses that despite the many benefits of telehealth in terms of accessibility and affordability, greater coordination among physicians is needed to follow up on adherence to management plans and reduce the frequency of preventable hospital admissions, especially for patients battling chronic diseases.
Fortunately, many digital health platforms offer care coordination and patient engagement tools to streamline these processes and increase patient access to care. The problem is getting the right mix of features that will fill an organization’s workflow gaps. VSee offers a unique no code, low code telehealth building blocks platform that makes it easy to fill in workflow gaps. Clients can quickly create a tailored solution, choosing from a vast library of pre-built functionalities, including telenursing task queues, and the ability to coordinate patient consultations and notify medical assistants, nurses, physicians, and schedulers with internal chats and customizable visit tags.
Looking ahead, the field of virtual nursing is poised for continued growth and evolution. Technological advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will soon play a prominent role in personalized healthcare, as AI-driven algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data to identify patterns, predict disease progression, and recommend tailored interventions.
Virtual nursing represents a paradigm shift in healthcare delivery, especially in the management of chronic diseases. By leveraging digital technologies, virtual nursing enhances accessibility, promotes patient engagement, and facilitates personalized care. As technology continues to advance, the future holds exciting possibilities for further innovation in virtual nursing, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes and a more efficient healthcare system.
Article contributed by Leanne Rose
Exclusively for vsee.com