Inpatient virtual care, a new approach to acute patient care, is designed to enhance patient outcomes and satisfaction, streamline clinical workflows, and improve the overall quality of inpatient care by leveraging the tools and technologies of remote care.
In this blog post, we'll delve into the key elements of the HRS Inpatient Virtual Care Playbook and how it can transform the way we approach healthcare.
Let's dig in.
Benefits of Inpatient Virtual Care
1. Reducing Workload for Hospital RNs
By appointing a dedicated virtual nurse who assumes responsibility for monitoring patient symptoms and vital signs, educating the patient, and facilitating patient communication, inpatient virtual care can alleviate a significant portion of the workload for hospital nurses. This approach enables hospital RNs to focus their attention on the most high-acuity patients, ensuring they receive the specialized care they require.
2. Increasing Patient Assessments and Touchpoints
Frequent monitoring of patient symptoms and vital signs is critical to identifying changes in a patient’s condition promptly. Timely and consistent patient touchpoints ensure healthcare providers can identify exacerbations as they occur, allowing for timely triage, escalation and intervention.
3. Expanding Access to Specialty Care Providers
Many inpatients are referred to specialists while in the hospital and unfortunately, not all hospitals have access to these specialists 24/7. Virtual care at the bedside can expand the scope of care and give access to these crucial providers at the right time, every time. This may be a great tool for rural hospitals, where patients may be forced to drive many miles post hospital discharge to see their specialist. This can lead to improved patient satisfaction and timely intervention to treatment.
Inpatient Virtual Care Playbook
In this 14-page guide, the HRS Clinical Team offers guidance for health systems and hospitals on how to leverage virtual care in an inpatient setting to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.
4. Expand Your Digital Strategy and Telehealth Footprint into the Inpatient Setting
Many health systems have or are developing innovative digital and telehealth strategies to address the most pressing challenges that they are facing today. When looking at your strategy it is crucial to note how the various technologies that you are exploring work together to provide a seamless experience for not only the patient but the provider. Utilizing technology that can provide care in many settings, both inpatient and post-acute, can improve patient and provider satisfaction. Patients that utilize the technology at the bedside could, in theory, begin using it in the ED and then take it home with them when discharged for continued monitoring. This approach can increase the likelihood that the patient stays connected to your health system throughout their care journey.
5. Building Long-Term Patient Engagement
Patient engagement is pivotal to successful healthcare outcomes. An inpatient virtual care strategy promotes long-term patient engagement through various means, including condition-specific educational content and teach-back quizzes to ensure patients understand their condition and care needs, promoting increased health literacy and overall quality of life.
6. Creating Cost Savings and Revenue Opportunities
By implementing inpatient virtual care, healthcare organizations can achieve cost savings and even generate new revenue streams by:
- Reducing Length of Stay
- Decreasing PPE and Supply Usage
- Maximizing Bed Capacity
- Increasing Nurse Productivity
- Delivery Value-Based Care
A Practical Example: Virtual Care in Acute Care Settings
Let’s consider a practical example of virtual care in an inpatient acute care setting. In this brief, 60-second overview video Florence Kariuki, Chief Clinical & DEI Officer, explains how we approach inpatient virtual care at HRS.
Here is a specific use case for how virtual care can be used in an acute care setting:
A hospital system is using virtual care to provide patient education and support to patients who are at the bedside. The system has developed a program that allows patients to use tablets to access educational materials, connect with nurses and other providers, and ask questions. The type of program can reduce the number of call lights, improve patient satisfaction, and shorten length of stay.
In this environment, virtual care can be used to provide a variety of services, ranging from patient education and support to medication management, discharge planning and follow-up care. Virtual care helps reduce hospital readmissions and length of stay, improve patient satisfaction and engagement, streamline clinical workflows to free up staff for other tasks, and lower healthcare costs.
As the technology continues to develop and reimbursement opportunities expand, we expect to see even more innovative ways to use virtual care to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare.
Transforming Inpatient Care
This approach to inpatient care represents a transformative shift in healthcare delivery. By reducing the workload for hospital RNs, increasing patient assessments, expanding access to specialists, and harnessing the power of telehealth, virtual inpatient care enhances patient care while helping healthcare providers save on costs.
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