Patients at a hospital in Nebraska are using a brand new technology called the Virtually Integrated CaseSM. It's a system with a virtual nurse who is located on the first floor and is able to speak to 24 patients on a busy med-surg floor by pressing a button.
According to the virtual nurse, Jayme Weber, "It's been really successful," and has been in use since April. "Patients have really appreciated, first, I think that the discharge times are quicker. And then second, just having someone there to answer their questions."
The computerized nurse can answer clinical questions, help with admissions and discharges and give patients their test results.
There is a camera that connects to the virtual nurse's computer in each patients room but is not turned on unless the patient permits.
As with any new hospital software, there are always some learning challenges.
"I think the most challenging part is just getting used to the technology on my end," Weber added. "It's actually kind of a benefit to not be in the room. It helps to keep me focused on the patient and I don't have to be pulled away by other patients."
According to the hospital's nursing director, Megan Uphoff, "The ultimate goal is improvement in quality care for the patients, improving patient satisfaction and also nurse and provider satisfaction which is increased communication between the staff and having included the virtual nurse in the huddle, as well."
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