November 2022
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TD Magazine

Technology Helps Burned-Out Nurses

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

A virtual nurse can take on numerous administrative tasks.

It's a healthcare delivery perfect storm: "A convergence of factors is contributing to both the increase in demand for services and decrease in care team supply: an aging patient population, delays in prevention and treatment of chronic diseases (especially for patients facing inequities), pre-existing structural issues within the care environment, an aging workforce, and extreme burnout intensified by the unparalleled demands and responsibilities on frontline care teams caused by the pandemic." That's the landscape presented in Oracle Cerner and Fierce Healthcare's 2022 whitepaper Getting to Ground Truth—Answering Healthcare Workforce Challenges With New Virtual Models of Care.


Nurses are leaving their jobs, and those who remain face stressful work and intense workloads. Despite those abysmal realities, there is hope in the form of technology. The whitepaper explains that digitizing and automating existing tasks and using virtual nurses can help assuage the workplace challenges for many healthcare facilities—and their on-site nurses.

Admission and discharge workflows are care areas in which virtual nurses can assist, the brief advises. Virtual nurses can make arrangements for collecting and documenting patient medication history, assure that risk factors and assessments are completed, and support care operations such as scheduled testing. The report points out that administrative tasks can account for half of nurses' everyday workload.

A virtual command center can streamline communication among care teams, and "patients can be assessed through machine learning-predicted algorithms to determine which patients may require the greatest attention from in-person nursing care," Getting to Ground Truth states.


Mercy Health-St. Rita's Medical Center in Lima, Ohio, is one facility exploring virtual nursing. In the Lima News article "St. Rita's Testing Virtual Nursing Technology," Eva Hill, director of central staffing and scheduling at the medical center, shares that virtual nursing "frees up the primary nurse by alleviating some of the documentation, improves patient safety and improves patient education." For example, virtual nurses can help with documentation during emergency rapid-response scenarios.

In addition to the safety benefits and workload reduction, the Lima News article says Hill and other staff "believe the system may indirectly assist with the recruitment of nurses, since there will be ‘seasoned nurses' available virtually to assist with concerns that a novice nurse may have about a patient."

About the Author

Patty Gaul is a senior writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

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