Stormont Vail Health enhances patient care with Virtual Nurse system

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(Topeka, Kansas, Feb. 13, 2019) – A new care-delivery platform at Stormont Vail Health is the first of its kind in Kansas, employing smart-television and touchscreen technologies to support clinical teams and their patients with an additional layer of nursing care and safety. Initially, the Virtual Nurse system serves 48 of Stormont Vail’s 586 inpatient beds.

Stormont Vail Chief Nursing Officer Carol Perry said the Virtual Nurse represents an extension of bedside nursing, allowing frontline nurses and other team members to address duties that require hands-on, bedside attention.

“The patient is at the heart of our care,” Perry said. “Virtual care team members provide extra eyes, ears and perspectives for bedside nurses, physicians and the rest of the clinical team.  The system also enables our team to share and validate real-time information with patients and their families regarding diagnoses, overall care and clinical outcomes. It may even allow patients to get a better night’s sleep, since the virtual nurse can remotely track vitals and communicate any concerns to the bedside nurse without disrupting the patient.”

From a control center located in the hospital, registered nurses and patient care technicians trained in the virtual protocols communicate via video with patients, families and bedside clinical team members. With one touch of a smart screen, patients and families may access a virtual nurse who can answer questions about diagnosis and treatment, provide extensive education and coordinate care with the patient’s doctor. This frees bedside nurses to do what they do best — provide exceptional, uninterrupted, hands-on patient care.

The system utilizes smart-television and touchscreen technologies, and features two cameras, both of which are equipped with night vision. One camera is mounted above the TV and serves as the virtual nurse’s eyes and ears. The other camera is installed in the ceiling, allowing virtual patient-care technicians to monitor for safety — a particularly important feature for patients who have mobility challenges and may be at risk for falling. The system, which will be utilized primarily during overnight hours and other interval times, does not record any of the live feed, and when a patient requires privacy, such as for an in-room procedure, the cameras are turned off.

“Twenty-first-century nurses still use traditional medical devices such as stethoscopes, thermometers and blood-pressure cuffs, but as health care transforms and innovates, new tools like the Virtual Nurse emerge that can help us enhance patient care,” said Tracy Duran, nurse manager, who oversees the program. “We believe this system will increase the frequency of direct-care interaction, resulting in an improved transparency, quality of care and experience for patients and their loved ones.”

About Stormont Vail Health:Stormont Vail Health is a nonprofit integrated health system that has been serving the health care needs of Kansas for more than 130 years. It is composed of Stormont Vail Hospital, a 586-bed acute care hospital, and Cotton O’Neil Clinic, a multi-specialty physician group with more than 500 providers, which includes more than 250 physicians. Nearly 5,100 employees provide care and support services for patients in the hospital and 35 other locations, including the Cotton O’Neil Heart Center, Cancer Center, Diabetes & Endocrinology Center, Digestive Health Center, Pediatrics clinics and 10 regional primary care clinics. Stormont Vail Health is committed to its mission of improving the health of the community by being a national leader in providing compassionate, high-quality and efficient integrated care through collaboration that results in a healthier community.