How Hippo Virtual Care™ Can Support Effective Nursing and Labor Shortages

The nursing shortages that have hampered the US healthcare system for decades were only further exacerbated by the pandemic. The impact of these shortages are considerable, ranging from reduced health services and increased staff burnout to mental health challenges and rising labor costs.

While some health systems have seen their nursing staffing levels rebound in recent months, there is still an estimated shortage of 200,000 to 450,000 nurses across the nation, with acute care the most affected. That estimate doesn’t include the 45 percent of inpatient nurses — who make up about 2.0 million of the 4.2 million nurses in the US — who reported (in March of 2023) they were likely to leave their role in the next six months.

With the shortage not likely to be solved any time soon, healthcare organizations have pursued other methods of improving care delivery — including the implementation of new technologies like AR-powered virtual care.

Relieving the Burden

 Nurses consistently cite an increasing workload burden and “not being able to spend more time overall on direct patient care” as the two main factors driving them to leave their current positions. With that in mind, there are specific tasks they could delegate both vertically and horizontally to ensure that the work they perform is at the top of their license and promotes professional satisfaction.

Documentation tasks can account for up to 15 percent of a nurse’s workload, with head-to-toe assessments, admissions intakes, and vitals charting accounting for the majority of that time. By utilizing a blend of automation and delegation (via virtual nursing and medical assistants), organizations can leverage remote collaboration with clinician extenders to delegate roughly 8 percent of the time nurses spend on patients’ activities of daily living and another 15 to 22 percent of the time they spend conducting periodic status checks and documentation, like admissions, shift assessments, and checking vital signs.

McKinsey estimates that, after reallocating time back to nurses, health systems could realize a 15 percent net time savings, which could help close the nursing workforce gap by up to 300,000 inpatient nurses. Achieving this goal, the firm says, “may require health systems to invest heavily in technology, change management, and workflow redesign.”

Delegation in Action

Virtual nursing programs at Covenant Medical Center in Texas and CHI Saint Joseph Hospital in Kentucky represent just two of the significant investments in delegation that health systems are making across the nation.

Covenant Medical Center, which is part of the Providence hospital network, uses a Hybrid, collaborative nursing model called Co-Caring to provide patients with high-quality care while improving satisfaction and retention among caregivers.

Covenant’s bi-directional audio and video platform allows processes related to admissions, discharge preparation, the creation of checklists prior to a procedure, and more to be addressed via a virtual nurse at a central desk.

According to Providence, Co-Caring has had a positive financial and operational impact on the organization. First-year turnover rates at Covenant Medical Center dropped by 73 percent for registered nurses, as well as by 55 percent for all staff. The system has also hired fewer travel nurses, opting to hire from local job markets instead.

With the success of the pilot program, Providence is now adding the program to 10 units, all of which are in the health system’s seven-state service area.

Julie Wright, nursing manager at Covenant Health said in a press release that the program is helping the health system create an environment “where burnout is the exception and not the rule, and where joy is the expectation.”

The virtual nursing program at CHI Saint Joseph Health — a comprehensive health system that is part of CommonSpirit Health with 100 locations in 20 counties throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky — is similar to the program at Providence, but adds a patient care assistant to support patients’ activities of daily living.

The program has seen similar success as the Providence program, and CHI Saint Joseph Health plans to expand it across the hospital system and, later, to external locations.
In a press release, CHI Saint Joseph Health’s COO Melissa Bennett, DHA, RN, CNE, called the program a “game-changer for our facility,” adding that she is “proud to see a new care model that will truly make a difference for facilities and patients alike.”

How Hippo Can Help

Similar to the programs outlined in the case studies above, the Hippo Virtual Care™ platform enables true remote collaboration and team-based working and learning by leveraging Assisted Reality technology (AR headsets).

Our platform was developed by clinicians for clinicians, and delivers a hands-free, “through the eyes of the clinician” experience, enabling qualitative patient examinations via remote headsets and clinician extenders on the ground. Clinician extenders can be trained MAs, RNs, EMTs, NPs, or PAs, who can now practice to the top of their license by enabling the delivery of specialist care remotely.

Our technology has been road tested and clinically validated in the harshest environments, including sub-Saharan Africa and offshore oil rigs. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in Wuhan, China, our platform was used by frontline healthcare workers to provide specialist care to high-risk patients, and it is currently being used by clinicians, clinical faculty, and emergency medical services teams in 10 other nations across the globe.

Not only is Hippo Virtual Care™ easy to deploy, use, and scale, but it costs just $10 per use case per day and features a simple pricing plan that allows for unlimited participants across your health system. And with up to a 30 percent improvement in productivity, 35 percent reduction in costs, and 90 percent patient and clinician satisfaction — while freeing up 11 percent of your inpatient hospital capacity — the platform can provide enormous dividends.

Those benefits are matched only by the platform’s ability to deliver specialist remote care to the 15 percent of high-risk chronic care patients who drive 80 percent of medical costs.

As health systems compete in this new world of payvider delivered care (e.g., Walmart, CVS, Amazon), the battle will be fought “outside the box” in the home using virtual care instead of traditional ambulatory care facilities and roles. Using AR to develop and implement your virtual care delivery model is crucial both to reducing the nursing labor burden and responding to the consumer-focused services of the coming payvider healthcare revolution. Virtual care is more than a quick fix to labor shortages, it is a critical new delivery model for meeting customer demands in the 21st century.

Learn how you can lessen your nurses’ workloads, boost their productivity, and extend their capability into your competitive marketplace with the Hippo Virtual Care™ platform.

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