In Sumter, the surgical inpatient floor at Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital is always bustling with activity for Registered Nurse Sarah Richardson who moves from room to room assessing patients, administering medications, and tending wounds.
“We work on a busy floor here, where turnover rate is very high,” Richardson said. “Being a surgical floor we get to do a lot of admissions and discharges, and sometimes those can happen at the same time.”
However, on Richardson’s floor, nurses have extra support through the Virtual Care Partnership program, which pairs experienced virtual nurses with onsite nurses through a video conferencing platform. Virtual nurses monitor patients remotely from Greenville and connect to patients in real time through a screen inside the patient room. Video connection is established only after a patient gives consent to interact with a virtual nurse. The virtual care partners complete many of the documentation tasks that do not require in-person support including chart checks, reviews, consults and more.
“The VCP program is needed to provide an extra layer of support for our bedside nurses,” said Erica Forward, manager of Telehealth for Prisma Health. “The VCP is taking on tasks that don't require them to be there in person. What this does is free up the bedside nurse to do more care at the bedside.”
Forward said this approach has shortened the length of stay for patients and reduced the number of readmissions. Onsite nurses also benefit from the mentorship of experienced virtual nurse partners. Most importantly, the program leads to greater patient satisfaction.
“The biggest and the best benefit is patient satisfaction,” Forward said. “Our patients feel they have a better supported health care team, and that their care needs are being met because they have that extra layer of support.”