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Equum Medical digital hospital workflow platforms leader.

At Equum Medical, we're committed to pushing the boundaries of healthcare innovation. We're excited to share that we've been featured in Frost & Sullivan's latest research report, "Growth Opportunities in US and European Hospital Workflow Digital Platforms and Solutions in Acute Care, Forecast to 2028."

Key Insights from the Report

The report covers important advancements in hospital workflow digital platforms, focusing on how automation and technology can boost clinical and operational efficiency.

Equum Medical's Role

Equum Medical is highlighted in the report for our cutting-edge solutions in bedside care. We're using virtual care, digital documentation, and bedside patient engagement devices to create a better care experience. Our technology helps ensure patients get the right care at the right time.

Our Commitment

Equum Medical is dedicated to transforming healthcare through our telehealth solutions and digital platforms. We're continually enhancing our services to support healthcare providers in delivering top-notch patient care.

Read the full report to learn more about the future of healthcare and see how Equum Medical is part of this change.

You can find the report and purchase it here.

For more information on how Equum Medical is shaping the future of healthcare, visit our website at www.equummedical.com or contact us at info@equummedical.com.

Stay tuned for more updates and insights into healthcare innovation.

About Frost & Sullivan

Frost & Sullivan is uniquely positioned and qualified to help your team create transformational growth strategies to survive and thrive in a business environment experiencing disruption, collapse and transformation. When choosing a growth partner we feel that these are the resources and skills that we bring to the partnership.

To learn more visit Frost & Sullivan online: https://www.frost.com/

 

Navigating Healthcare Labor Shortages with Virtual Care Solutions.

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Healthcare is a labor-intensive industry and labor costs—including salaries, benefits and training expenses for healthcare professionals—constitute a massive portion of these expenditures. The healthcare industry therefore faces a significant challenge labeled recently by Fitch Ratings as the "labordemic," marked by the urgent need to control these escalating expenses.

It's a powerful word, labordemic; it conjures the memories and emotions of being a physician during Covid-19 and still applies now as we construct the ideal post-pandemic recovery model. Despite an uptick in hospital volumes, which have largely recovered from the initial hit during the pandemic, today's hospital struggles in margin management.

According to the American Hospital Association, staffing shortages are exacerbated by hospital patients who are increasingly sicker and whose cases are more medically complex than before the pandemic. This means a sicker population that requires longer inpatient stays are being cared for by a more resource-constrained clinical workforce and the demand is driving up labor costs and leading to burnout. Bain & Company's U.S. Clinician Burnout Survey reported one-quarter of clinicians surveyed are considering switching careers and 40% lack resources to operate at full potential. In response to the labordemic, many hospitals are investing in technology and innovative solutions, such as virtual care.

Doing More With Less

To optimize operations, healthcare providers must do more with less, therefore they must provide higher quality at a lower cost. Implementing virtual care can reduce the need for traditional in-person consultations and on-site personnel. This, in turn, reduces the demand for infrastructure as more patients are conducting their visits in a virtual platform. As a result, providers can be more accessible but at a lower cost.

In "Period of Renaissance for the High Acuity Telehealth Market," Signify, an independent market research firm, examined a few key areas as they relate to the labordemic: tele-observation/tele-sitting, tele-ICU, clinical surveillance, encounter-based clinical examinations/medical support and virtual nursing.

But before hospitals can adopt virtual care programs, they need to examine their existing framework for care and implement strategic changes.

Preparing For The Shift Toward Virtual Care

Streamline

In order to free up personnel for virtual care, look to automate mundane, repetitive tasks. McKinsey & Company identified a potential 10%-20% time savings for nurses through digital automation, and the 2023 KLAS Healthcare Operations Report (paywall) revealed over 90% of healthcare workers prioritize technology consolidation for operational efficiency. Meanwhile, Bain & Company's 2023 Healthcare Provider IT Report revealed providers express a preference for fewer vendors, especially electronic health record providers, for new functionality before evaluating new vendors and offerings.

Address Burnout

Front-line workers face physical, mental and financial strain—all of which can contribute to burnout. Virtual care can aid with job retention by allowing for more flexibility. In some cases, providers can work from home on nights or weekends. Virtual platforms can also eliminate geographical constraints.

By the same token, virtual care can democratize access to medical services, allowing providers to reach patients who may live in remote rural areas, where hospitals are hours away, or see more patients in urban areas that sometimes face overcrowding. This broadens the reach of healthcare providers, allowing them to have a greater impact.

By providing clinicians with the tools and resources necessary for remote patient care, virtual care solutions can empower healthcare professionals to deliver high-quality services while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Educate Patients

Virtual care has become more adapted through the increase in telehealth, remote monitoring, patient portals, virtual rounding and virtual nursing. But as with most things, patient education is vital to the success of the types of care being implemented.

Be consistent in your messaging and content and practice engagement and activation. This is dependenton myriad factors, but isn't limited to age, education and socioeconomic factors. We've seen the most success with aligning communication to social media channels to make it as consumer-friendly as possible.

In closing, the labordemic demands innovative approaches in healthcare. Providers can create long-term solutions by embracing virtual care, investing in telehealth platforms (both in cost and educating the user) and creating workflows where vendor management is consolidated and automated tasks are delegated to AI or lend themselves to IT solutions. Virtual care can create a better work-life balance for workers while offering a sustainable focus on patient care.

harnessing telehealth for rural critical access hospitals

 

View on the NRHA Blog here

Dr. Anisha Mathur, MD is Equum Medical's Chief Medical Officer.

Critical access hospitals (CAH) administrators face unique challenges, particularly during the seasonal rush when respiratory illnesses strain bed capacity. Despite their crucial role in local health care, rural hospitals often face resource or infrastructure constraints and workforce shortages. Recent metrics underscore the nationwide infectious disease doctor deficit, highlighting the need for innovative solutions. Telehealth technology allows for real-time consultation not bound by hospital walls, geography,  or seasonal limitations. This blog explores the impact of seasonal rushes, infectious disease expertise in rural CAHs, and the opportunities telehealth presents.

Seasonal rush and the role of the infectious disease doctor

The interplay of patient comorbidities, severity of illness, and seasonality emerges as a pivotal triad shaping strategies for resource allocation. Autumn and winter correlate with increased respiratory illnesses, including influenza, RSV, and COVID. These viruses are associated with high morbidity and mortality in individuals of extreme age or with chronic respiratory illnesses as well as other immunocompromised states. Overcrowded emergency departments lead to higher mortality, increased length of hospital stay, and rising costs.

Tele-infectious disease physicians provide real-time guidance, fostering meaningful clinical discussions and collaborative co-management. Infectious disease physicians can be leveraged to assist in the coordinated response needed to address seasonal surges in resource allocation. Their knowledge of epidemiologic trends and targeted therapeutic interventions can also be utilized consistently year-round by hospital administrators to prevent patient leakage, manage bed capacity, and optimize provider access.

How can a telehealth-enabled resource support seasonal specialist coverage?

1. Load balancing hospitals and preventing patient leakage
Rural hospitals face patient leakage challenges, prompting migration to urban centers for specialized care. These transfers are often unnecessary and costly and create congestion at the urban facility. Telehealth addresses this by facilitating remote collaboration with infectious disease providers. Patients receive personalized care locally, retaining revenue and strengthening community ties.

2. Optimizing physician access
Rural health care grapples with specialized physician shortages. Telehealth broadens access to health care professionals, enabling virtual consultations, remote assessments, and targeted treatment plan prescriptions. This enhances care quality, relieving strain on on-site medical personnel who may feel insular in their practice. In an era of difficult-to-treat bacterial infections and increasing antibiotic resistance, hospital administrators and patients benefit from an infectious disease provider leading the antibiotic stewardship campaign – regardless of hospital size or geography. This happens through daily practice as well as taking leadership in monitored virtual programs. Hospital administrators can call on infectious disease providers to navigate infection control strategies that directly influence isolation-room bed logistics, as determining the appropriate time to safely discontinue isolation can facilitate movement.

What does it take to bring telehealth to support rural seasonal care needs?

Implementing telehealth in rural CAHs requires strategic planning and collaboration.

Here are early steps for administrators to consider:

  • Infrastructure investment: Develop the necessary technological infrastructure to support telehealth services, providing a seamless and secure platform for virtual consultations.
  • Training and education: Train local health care professionals on clinical workflows and expectations. Create targeted protocols for collaborative management of common infectious illnesses that require time-sensitive interventions. Leverage technology to meet mutually defined goals.
  • Community outreach: Spread awareness to the community via campaigns about the availability of new services provided by your institution. Emphasize the convenience and accessibility while dispelling any misconceptions.
  • Collaboration with infectious disease specialists: Forge partnerships with infectious disease physicians who have experience in rural health and can navigate the local landscape.

Telehealth and tele-infectious disease consultation as an everyday solution

Rural CAHs, standing at the crossroads of innovation and necessity, can thrive both clinically and financially by embracing telehealth. It offers a lifeline to administrators aiming to achieve optimal care, prevent patient leakage, optimize physician access, and become local care providers. Embracing telehealth is not just a solution during seasonal surges but a powerful commitment to the well-being and sustainability of rural health care.

3 ways to re think telemetry for your hospital

Optimizing cardiac telemetry services is paramount for hospitals aiming to provide efficient and comprehensive heart care solutions. From alleviating nursing burden to integrating tele-cardiology resources and enhancing operational efficiency, here are three strategic ways hospitals can optimize their use of cardiac telemetry.

#1 Alleviating Nursing Burden through Outsourcing:

One of the key challenges hospitals face in cardiac telemetry is the strain it puts on nursing resources. Monitoring cardiac telemetry requires constant attention, and the demand for skilled nursing staff can be overwhelming. To address this challenge, hospitals can consider outsourcing telemetry monitoring services.

Outsourcing telemetry monitoring allows hospitals to tap into specialized expertise without overburdening their in-house nursing staff. External telemetry experts can provide continuous monitoring, timely response to alerts, and data analysis, freeing up internal nursing resources to focus on direct patient care. This not only alleviates the burden on nurses but also ensures that patients receive the highest level of attention and care.

#2 Connecting Telemetry to Tele-Cardiology Resources:

The integration of cardiac telemetry with tele-cardiology resources is a game-changer for hospitals seeking a comprehensive approach to heart care. Tele-cardiology enables remote consultation and collaboration among cardiac specialists, regardless of geographical constraints. By connecting telemetry data to tele-cardiology platforms, hospitals can enhance their diagnostic capabilities and provide more immediate, specialized care to patients supporting patient flow.

Real-time communication between telemetry monitoring teams and remote cardiologists ensures swift decision-making in critical situations. This interconnected approach fosters a seamless continuum of care, allowing healthcare providers to address potential cardiac issues proactively. It not only improves patient outcomes but also strengthens the hospital's position as a center for advanced and comprehensive heart care.

#3 Operational Efficiency through Streamlining Staffing Costs and Real Estate Investments for a Cardiac Monitoring Unit (CMU):

Creating a dedicated Cardiac Monitoring Unit (CMU) requires real estate, resources, management and a stable forecast of telemetry demand. Hospitals operating CMU’s are operating small businesses in virtual care which often have costs associated with implementation and maintenance that go unrealized.

  • Property/real estate: hospital real estate is usually cost-prohibitive and also presents an opportunity cost for extended patient care when converted to staffing a CMU. Outsourcing can free-up such locations
  • Telemetry demand: telemetry overuse can contribute to higher per bed costs, and potentially patient injury if unnecessary. Dynamic virtual capacity for staffing of telemetry can support fluctuations in monitoring costs
  • Staffing: staffing costs can be optimized and bedside care can be re-prioritized as virtual teams collaborate through an outsourced model

Re-Think Telemetry

Cardiac telemetry in hospitals requires a multifaceted approach that addresses nursing burden, integrates tele-cardiology resources, and enhances operational efficiency through outsourcing. By embracing these strategies, hospitals can not only provide superior cardiac care but also position themselves at the forefront of healthcare innovation. The result is a win-win scenario – improved patient outcomes and a more efficient, future-ready healthcare system.

Explore how your hospital can lead the way in cardiac care innovation by adopting these telemetry optimization strategies today… learn more and connect with us here.

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integrating telehealth strengthening rural health care delivery

 

Integrating telehealth,integrated telehealth partners,integrated telehealth solutions,integrated telehealth services,Strengthening rural health care delivery,rural health care facilities,rural health care facility challenges,Integrating telehealth: Strengthening rural health care delivery

View on the NRHA Blog here

Dr. Corey Scurlock MD, MBA is the CEO & founder of Equum Medical.

The health care landscape is undergoing a transformation, particularly in how medical services are delivered in rural communities. Amidst rapid technological advancements, telehealth has surfaced as a revolutionary tool, essential for bridging the disparities in health care access. This shift towards virtual care delivery models is not just a convenience – it is a necessity for the sustainability of rural health systems.

Telehealth: A lifeline for rural communities

Rural residents have always faced significant challenges in accessing quality health care. Distance from larger medical centers coupled with a shortage of local health care professionals has historically placed these communities at a disadvantage. Telehealth is changing this narrative by providing immediate access to medical expertise, allowing for timely and often life-saving interventions.

With telehealth platforms, patients can receive consultations, diagnoses, and treatment plans without the need for physical travel. This is especially critical for acute medical conditions where every second counts. By connecting patients with specialists via telemedicine, we are effectively eliminating the barriers imposed by distance, ensuring high-quality care is a right and not a privilege for every individual, regardless of their geographical location.

Diminishing health care inequalities

The gap in health care quality and accessibility between urban and rural populations has long been a topic of concern. Rural residents are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions, have limited access to preventive care, and face higher health care expenses. Telehealth offers a means to mitigate these issues by facilitating early diagnosis and care management, thus preventing the escalation of manageable health conditions into critical emergencies.

For rural hospitals, telehealth is more than just a technological addition – it is a strategic asset. It enables these institutions to extend their service offerings and to provide a level of care previously unavailable in their regions. This not only improves patient health outcomes but also aids in alleviating the workforce shortages. Technology empowers overextended medical staff, allowing them to do more with less and focus their efforts where they are needed most.

Sustaining rural health care facilities

Sustaining rural health care facilities

The economic impact of a local hospital closure goes beyond health care. It can be devastating to the rural economy, leading to job losses and a decrease in the community's overall well-being. Telehealth services help prevent such outcomes by expanding the capabilities of these facilities to treat acute and chronic conditions. This integration aids in keeping health care local, maintaining the vitality of these essential institutions and the communities they serve.

Equum Medical's partnership with the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) exemplifies our dedication to this cause. Our collaborative efforts have been aimed at leveraging telehealth to not only preserve but enhance the functionality and scope of rural hospitals, enabling them to adapt to the changing health care landscape while continuing to serve as the backbone of their communities.

Creating healthier rural ecosystems

The value of telehealth transcends the direct provision of medical services by fostering the development of a health care ecosystem that supports sustainable, community-wide wellness. Telehealth initiatives can support local public health efforts, deliver educational resources, and promote wellness and preventive care. Such programs empower residents to manage their health proactively, which can lead to reduced hospital admissions and a healthier population overall.

Moreover, telehealth facilitates the creation of integrated health care networks by connecting rural providers with regional and national systems. This allows for the sharing of best practices, expansion of services, and a collaborative approach to complex health issues. In these networks, rural health providers are not isolated but are part of a larger, supportive community of health care professionals.

rural health care facilities

The way forward with telehealth

The integration of telehealth into rural health care is a forward-thinking solution that addresses immediate needs while laying the groundwork for future advancements. It is an acknowledgment that quality health care should be universally accessible and that rural communities deserve the same standard of care as their urban counterparts.

As we look to the future, the continued support and expansion of telehealth services are crucial. We must build on the momentum generated in recent years to ensure that our health care system evolves to meet the needs of every citizen. The role of technology in this cannot be understated – it is the key to unlocking the potential of rural health care and providing a foundation for innovative, accessible, and sustainable care delivery.

Telehealth is more than a temporary fix; it is a permanent and integral part of the health care fabric. The time is now to embrace this technology fully and invest in the health of our rural communities. By committing to the widespread adoption of telehealth, we affirm our dedication to a future where equitable health care is not just an aspiration but a reality for every community across the nation.

synergy of technology and services organizations

The Healthcare Flywheel Effect,The Healthcare Flywheel Model

View on Forbes.com here

Dr. Corey Scurlock MD, MBA is the CEO & founder of Equum Medical.

Within the healthcare landscape we live in today, strategic alliances have become an essential means of inter-organizational cooperation. The collaboration between these technology companies and healthcare clinical workforce services providers are benefitting from the "flywheel effect." These alliances come in various forms, such as service alliances, opportunistic alliances and stakeholder alliances and they offer opportunities to pool resources, gain competitive advantages and strengthen relationships with various stakeholders, including suppliers, customers and employees. The key to their success lies in recognizing their unique characteristics and managing them effectively.

The Flywheel Effect: What Is It?

In business, we search for ways to participate in a continuous cycle of growth that’s self sustaining. In fact, not just grow, but grow with increasing velocity. Jim Collins in "Good to Great" builds on this by identifying the behaviors of successful companies that continue to beat the market and competitors. Outside of the traditional companies and models reviewed, in healthcare the flywheel effect emerges when technology companies collaborate with healthcare clinical workforce services providers, creating a mutually beneficial relationship. This is mainly because the value for healthcare is not just more technology, but a balance between people and technology, and the processes and workflows to optimize the utility of the new solutions.

How does it work? Technology companies offer innovative solutions that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery. These solutions, ranging from telehealth platforms to AI-driven diagnostics, streamline processes, reduce costs and improve patient outcomes. Simultaneously, healthcare clinical workforce services providers ensure that these technologies are integrated seamlessly into clinical workflows. They supply the essential human touch that complements digital advancements—from skilled medical professionals to administrative staff. Together, these partners catalyze a cycle of improvement: as technology enhances clinical services, the healthcare workforce becomes more efficient and skilled, resulting in even better patient outcomes.

The Power Of Partnership

Harvard professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter noted managing relationships within strategic alliances is a nuanced endeavor: organizations entering these alliances, whether they are hospitals, physicians or firms bring their distinct goals and expectations to the table. The challenge lies in reconciling these disparate views and molding them into shared, well-understood and agreed-upon purposes, which is why realistic and reasonable expectations, both in terms of content and time frame, are crucial for the alliance's success. Additionally, the scope and domain of alliance activities must be clearly defined and embraced by all members. In healthcare, stakeholder alliances have been used to strengthen relationships with suppliers and customers. For instance, healthcare organizations may form partnerships with suppliers to ensure a steady supply of high-quality materials and equipment.

Commitment As The Underlying Philosophy

Members of these alliances must view their participation as an exchange relationship where benefits are earned through contributions. Contribution entails a willingness to share resources, recognizing that this means relinquishing some degree of control and autonomy. It's vital to understand that alliance purposes can evolve over time, necessitating a reevaluation of membership, operational domains and programmatic areas. To ensure the effectiveness of these interorganizational partnerships, a common framework and process for joint decision-making is essential.

Participating In The Ecosystem

Business ecosystems offer the key benefits of partnership and through their modular design, the promise of faster innovation. BCG researchers have noted that the structural roadblocks of our healthcare system can detract from the interest in companies creating alliances, the primary of such is that being the health care sector is resistant to change. To combat this, don’t pursue the first instinct in the alliance which would be to add scope, but instead, focus on adding scale: a key challenge is the ability to affect change, therefore scale is needed. Focus the alliance and participation on achieving critical mass through focus vs increasing the core value proposition prior to this.

Implementing The Healthcare Flywheel Model: Key Recommendations

To harness the power of the flywheel effect for technology and services organizations:

1. Synergistic Partnerships: Choose technology companies and healthcare clinical workforce services providers offering complementary solutions that create a seamless, integrated solution.

2. Streamline Communication: Establish regular meetings and clear lines of communication to organize effective collaboration that includes goals setting, escalations and team deliverables.

3. Clinical Workflow Integration: Ensure that technology and clinical workforce solutions integrate for the customer instead of disrupting clinical workflows. Education that maps to each level of the organization from leadership to bedside care teams is critical for buy in.

4. Data-Driven Decision-Making: Leverage data to assess patient outcomes, cost savings and other relevant metrics to make data-driven improvements and share the small wins along the way.

5. Continuous Improvement: Embrace a culture of continuous improvement. A roadmap that aligns the firms goals for growth, marketing and account-based engagement will ensure that the true value of the flywheel can be realized.

Alliances are “the organizations of the future.” By forging strong partnerships between technology companies and healthcare clinical workforce services providers, the industry can achieve remarkable efficiencies, cost savings and improved patient outcomes. To unlock its full potential, organizations must commit to collaboration, streamlined communication and a relentless pursuit of innovation. With the flywheel in motion, healthcare can accelerate toward a brighter future, where technology and human expertise converge for the betterment of patient care.

Inpatient Healthcare Delivery: the emergence of virtual first strategy

 

View on Forbes.com here

Dr. Corey Scurlock MD, MBA is the CEO & founder of Equum Medical.

Our world is evolving. Traditional banking has made way for online banking, and grocery shopping carts are more often on the screen versus in the store. Healthcare is evolving; however, integrating technology has come at a slower pace.

In contrast to our consumer worlds, evolution is distinct from traditional medical practice. Strategically, health systems, too, are harnessing technology, and at higher rates than in prior years. Reimagining how care can be delivered is removing defined physical care venues, instead defining the level of service needed. As a CEO and founder of a telehealth-enabled clinical services company, I am excited to explore and participate in realizing the profound implications of this strategy on hospitals and the healthcare ecosystem as a whole.

Indeed, "virtual-first" approaches have not only become relevant but essential, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Hybrid ecosystems are evolving for payers and providers. This strategy has been adopted post-Covid to support the reshaping of inpatient care, from the Emergency Department (ED) to discharge planning, optimizing workforce utilization during times of higher acuity patient populations. It's a response to the growing need for healthcare delivery models that are not just reactive but proactive and technology-empowered.

Unleashing The Potential Of A Virtual-First Approach

The virtual-first strategy signifies a fundamental shift in how hospitals approach patient care. This approach isn't about replacing human interaction but rather enhancing it through the seamless integration of virtual interventions. The strategy prioritizes virtual interactions, empowering patients with greater accessibility and efficiency in receiving top-notch care and enabling health systems to integrate continuous clinical services through bedside and telehealth-enabled care teams.

By incorporating telehealth solutions from the outset, hospitals are fostering patient engagement and achieving improved outcomes. This approach is particularly important in bridging geographical barriers, ensuring that patients, even in remote areas, can access specialized care without the need for physical travel.

Transforming The Emergency Department With Virtual Health

In the fast-paced world of emergency medicine, a virtual-first strategy has proven its mettle by enhancing the emergency department (ED) experience. Through telehealth, patients can undergo remote triage and initial assessments, allowing medical professionals to swiftly evaluate symptoms and determine appropriate care pathways. This approach expedites treatment processes while prioritizing critical cases for prompt attention, even if a specialty physician modality is not available 24/7 in person. This can not only optimize the use of resources but also significantly reduce wait times and ensure that patients with severe conditions receive timely attention while maintaining patient flow.

Redefining Intensive Care Through Continuous Remote Monitoring

With the innovation of Tele-ICU celebrating 25 years of practice this year, critical care telehealth has some of the most demonstrable outcomes presenting cost and quality data. Critical care demands constant vigilance, a task made more efficient by a virtual-first strategy. The intensive care unit (ICU) adopts continuous remote monitoring through telehealth technologies, enabling healthcare teams to closely observe patients' vital signs, intervene promptly when necessary and collaborate seamlessly with remote specialists. This real-time monitoring mitigates risks and optimizes resource allocation. It also improves patient safety and supplies healthcare providers with data-driven insights to make informed decisions.

Empowering Nursing With Virtual Health

Nursing, a cornerstone of inpatient care, is undergoing transformation through virtual health. The virtual nursing model encompasses remote monitoring of patients' conditions, medication management and ongoing communication. This approach benefits patients by ensuring personalized care and timely interventions, while nurses can effectively manage larger patient volumes. As the nation faces a nursing workforce shortage, tele-nursing has grown rapidly and broadly to represent a new model of bedside to web-side care delivery strategy. This model empowers nurses to extend their care beyond the physical confines of the hospital room, providing continuous support and enhancing patient outcomes.

Harmonizing Human-Tech Synergy

A proper virtual-first strategy prioritizes technology without eclipsing the importance of in-person care. Hospitals must skillfully harmonize virtual interactions with face-to-face interventions to cater to individual patient needs. And virtual-first is now part of the decision-making of bringing new service lines to health systems, namely in person or, in fact, beginning with virtual in mind. This synergy can deliver a comprehensive care experience, combining the convenience of virtual access with the personalized touch of hands-on medical attention. For instance, a patient can have a virtual consultation with a specialist and then seamlessly transition to in-person care for procedures or interventions that require physical presence.

Conclusion: Shaping The Future Of Inpatient Care

If you view telehealth as “a natural evolution of healthcare,” then the challenges facing institutions center on provider resistance, clinical workforce resourcing, and infrastructure maturity. For providers, telehealth can be disruptive, so comprehensive training programs need to complement the integration of technology such as virtual care. As many health systems are faced with workforce shortages, telehealth may be seen as a further draw on existing resources. Here, telehealth and virtual care teams’ organization can help define roles for the bedside and the “webside” and which shared tasks together optimize this new relationship. Hospital IT investment is growing, and beyond the EMR and interoperability, virtual care investments can be tied to hospital ROI, supporting use case purchases to start that then connect through a telehealth framework across the acute continuum. In the case telehealth is viewed as a radical shift in care delivery, then the larger challenge is organizational buy-in, which requires a strong executive sponsor and an appetite to drive a culture of change.

The journey toward a virtual-first strategy in inpatient care is revolutionizing hospitals' care delivery methods. Through my conversations with health system executives, I am increasingly convinced that this strategy can contribute to a transformational healthcare landscape that sets a new standard for patient-centered care enabled by cutting-edge technology.

The adoption of a virtual-first approach is not just about leveraging technology for technology's sake; it's about putting patients at the center of care, ensuring that their needs are met promptly and effectively. And it’s squarely too about getting scarce provider resources to patients anywhere. The integration of a virtual-first approach represents an opportunity to advance medicine while also representing a continued commitment to providing top-quality care that adapts to the changing needs and expectations of patients. It's an exciting journey, one that reinforces the idea that technology and compassion can seamlessly coexist, enriching the healthcare experience for all.

Unlocking Healthcare Excellence: Enhancing Patient Care through Outsourced Cardiac Telemetry Services

"Do what you do best and outsource the rest." - Peter Drucker

Chief Nursing Officer Ashley VonNida, DNP, MBA, MSN

In the era characterized by economic challenges, soaring healthcare costs, and intensified competition, hospitals are actively seeking innovative strategies to simultaneously sustain profitability and elevate the quality of patient care. A pioneering approach that has garnered attention is the outsourcing of cardiac monitoring services. Particularly within the domain of cardiac event monitoring, this strategic move presents hospitals with an array of advantages that not only augment patient care but also optimize operational efficacy.

Outsourcing cardiac telemetry represents a transformative stride toward modernizing healthcare services. Through remote patient monitoring, hospitals can attain unprecedented levels of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and patient satisfaction. The fusion of cutting-edge technology and specialized proficiency offers a glimpse into the future landscape of healthcare excellence. While broadly utilized, telemetry is predominantly implemented within a hospital as part of cardiac services; in a 2016 study (Cantillon 2016), researchers showcased the potential of outsourcing cardiac telemetry services to a centralized off-site monitoring center. The outcomes were remarkable: a reduction in hospital readmissions and emergency room visits, all without an escalation in adverse events. This approach addresses the challenge of alarm fatigue while optimizing the precision of event notifications within a clinical workforce constrained model.

This strategic pivot aligns with the wisdom of renowned consultant Peter Drucker: "Do what you do best and outsource the rest." Just as hospitals have adeptly outsourced support services, the outsourcing of specialized functions like cardiac telemetry proves to be comparably effective. Given the ongoing demand for remote patient monitoring and the persisting impacts of the pandemic, the future of healthcare lies in embracing these transformative outsourcing solutions. By collaborating with industry experts such as Equum Medical, hospitals can optimize patient care, streamline operations, and secure a more resilient, prosperous future.

Understanding Cardiac Monitoring: A Paradigm Shift in Healthcare

Cardiac monitoring represents a revolutionary advancement, facilitating the seamless transmission of critical patient data from implantable rhythm management devices directly to medical professionals. This breakthrough enables healthcare practitioners to remotely assess heart activity, obviating the necessity for patients to be physically present for evaluations. Cardiac telemetry, as a resource-intensive process, demands a comprehensive infrastructure and a specialized workforce to effectively monitor and analyze patients' heart activities. The continuous and real-time nature of cardiac monitoring requires sophisticated equipment, including implantable rhythm management devices, monitoring devices, and robust data transmission systems. These technologies must be maintained, upgraded, and monitored around the clock to ensure seamless data flow and accurate readings. Moreover, the process involves highly trained medical professionals, such as radiologists and cardiologists, who possess the expertise to interpret complex cardiac data accurately. The need for 24/7 availability, rapid response to emergencies, and ongoing quality assurance further escalates the resource requirements. Consequently, hospitals and healthcare institutions opting for cardiac telemetry must allocate significant financial, technological, and human resources to ensure consistent and reliable patient care while adhering to the stringent demands of this resource-intensive practice.

The Merits of Outsourcing Cardiac Monitoring Services

  • 24/7 Availability: By outsourcing cardiac monitoring, healthcare institutions attain round-the-clock support, alleviating the burden on in-house radiologists and mitigating the potential for errors. Continuous assistance empowers radiologists to operate more efficiently during nighttime hours, and even weekends and holidays can now be met with rapid responsiveness.
  • Enhanced Reporting Protocols: Specialized medical practices often encounter challenges in securing radiologists with the requisite expertise. Outsourcing introduces hospitals to super-specialist radiologists who furnish valuable insights for enhancing reporting formats. With their guidance, healthcare facilities can embrace standardized, widely accepted reporting templates, fortifying their credibility and communication.
  • Swift Resolution of Critical Cases: For hospitals confronted with emergencies and urgent scenarios, outsourcing ensures the expeditious handling of priority cases, especially during nighttime hours. This continuous availability not only accelerates case resolution but also facilitates remote consultations with specialists, negating the need for physical visits.
  • Optimal Cost-Efficiency: Outsourcing cardiac monitoring services yields substantial cost benefits. Hospitals can harness enhanced medical capabilities without enlarging their workforce, leading to reduced labor costs and diminished annual maintenance expenses. The swift access to top-tier reports and consultations not only trims overhead expenses but also enhances patient outcomes.

Elevating Patient Experience and Financial Viability

The outsourcing of cardiac monitoring emerges as a gateway to a spectrum of advantages that extend beyond the confines of hospital operations:

  • Heightened Profitability: Outsourcing translates to local resource expense reductions ranging from 30% to 60%, bolstering hospitals' profit margins. The availability of cost-effective labor and infrastructure through outsourcing plays a pivotal role in driving these noteworthy savings.
  • Enhanced Patient Care: By entrusting non-core responsibilities to outsourcing vendors, healthcare institutions can prioritize patient care, leading to enriched patient experiences and a fortified organizational reputation.
  • Expanded Service Portfolio: Outsourcing empowers hospitals to diversify their service offerings across multiple locations, both domestically and internationally, fostering competitiveness and extending their sphere of influence.

Pioneering the Future of Healthcare

The strategic shift towards outsourcing cardiac telemetry services marks a pivotal step in modernizing healthcare offerings. In the current landscape of economic challenges and escalating healthcare costs, hospitals are presented with a unique opportunity to optimize both patient care and operational efficiency through this approach. The advantages of outsourcing cardiac telemetry services are profound and encompass a multitude of dimensions, including financial savings and operational optimization.

By leveraging the expertise of specialized off-site monitoring centers, hospitals can harness the benefits of round-the-clock availability, enhanced reporting protocols, swift resolution of critical cases, and optimal cost-efficiency. These factors collectively contribute to a substantial boost in profitability, a critical factor in today's competitive healthcare environment. Through outsourcing, hospitals can achieve local resource expense reductions ranging from 30% to 60%, significantly enhancing their profit margins.

Moreover, the patient experience is elevated to new heights, as healthcare institutions can direct their focus on core patient care responsibilities while entrusting specialized functions to outsourcing partners. This emphasis on patient-centric care enhances patient experiences and reinforces the hospital's reputation.

In the evolving landscape of healthcare, outsourcing cardiac telemetry services serves as a strategic alignment to benefit from innovation and efficiency. By collaborating with industry experts like Equum Medical, hospitals can effectively streamline operations, optimize patient care, and ensure a prosperous and resilient future. As healthcare professionals, embracing these transformative outsourcing solutions is not just a strategic decision, but a pivotal step towards shaping the future of healthcare excellence.

References:

Cantillon DJ, Loy M, Burkle A, et al. Association Between Off-site Central Monitoring Using Standardized Cardiac Telemetry and Clinical Outcomes Among Non–Critically Ill Patients. JAMA. 2016;316(5):519–524. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.10258

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revolutionizing patient care with equum medicals virtual nursing services

The healthcare landscape is continually evolving, with advancements in technology playing a pivotal role in the transformation of patient care. One such innovation that's gaining traction is Virtual Nursing, a service offered by Equum Medical. This cutting-edge solution enhances the quality of care, addresses staffing challenges, and optimizes the healthcare experience for both patients and providers. In this blog post, we'll delve into the world of Virtual Nursing, explore its benefits, and discuss how Equum Medical is revolutionizing patient care through its service lines.

What is Virtual Nursing?

The Concept

Virtual Nursing refers to the use of telehealth technologies to remotely provide nursing care and support to patients in various healthcare settings. It allows nurses to monitor patients, provide education, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals from a distance, leveraging the power of modern communication tools and digital platforms.

Equum Medical's Approach

Equum Medical's Virtual Nursing services combine advanced telehealth technologies with a team of highly skilled, experienced nurses. This innovative approach enables healthcare providers to extend their reach, improve patient outcomes, and optimize resource utilization, all while maintaining a strong focus on patient-centered care.

Benefits of Virtual Nursing

Enhanced Patient Care

Virtual Nursing offers numerous advantages to patients, including:

  • Access to specialized nursing care and support, even in remote or underserved areas
  • Timely intervention and monitoring, leading to better health outcomes through optimized admissions and discharges
  • Improved patient education and self-management, promoting a proactive approach to healthcare
  • Greater continuity of care, fostering stronger relationships between patients and providers

Addressing Staffing Challenges

Healthcare providers often face staffing shortages, which can impact the quality and timeliness of patient care. Virtual Nursing addresses these challenges by:

  • Extending the reach of nursing staff, allowing them to care for more patients without compromising quality
  • Providing backup support during periods of high demand, alleviating the pressure on in-person staff
  • Offering a flexible workforce solution, enabling healthcare providers to scale up or down as needed

Cost and Resource Optimization

Virtual Nursing can help healthcare providers optimize their resources and reduce costs by:

  • Reducing the need for patient transfers to specialized facilities, saving time and money
  • Streamlining workflows and increasing efficiency, leading to better resource utilization
  • Minimizing the risk of hospital readmissions and associated costs through proactive monitoring and intervention
  • Address transitions in care and patient flow bottlenecks

Role of Virtual Nursing in Addressing Healthcare Disparities

Bridging the Gap

Healthcare disparities are a persistent issue affecting many communities, particularly those in rural or underserved areas. Virtual Nursing has the potential to bridge the gap, ensuring that all patients have access to quality care, regardless of their location. By providing remote nursing support, Equum Medical helps to:

  • Expand access to specialized nursing care in areas with limited resources
  • Reduce barriers to care, such as distance and transportation challenges
  • Promote health equity by offering consistent, high-quality care to all patients

Collaborative Care for Underserved Populations

Equum Medical's Virtual Nursing services enable healthcare providers to work collaboratively with other professionals, facilitating access to the right care at the right time. This team-based approach is particularly beneficial for underserved populations, as it:

  • Fosters a seamless care experience, ensuring that patients receive timely support and intervention
  • Enables healthcare providers to share knowledge, expertise, and resources, improving the overall quality of care
  • Empowers patients to take an active role in their healthcare journey, fostering a sense of ownership and engagement

Virtual Nursing: A Sustainable Solution for the Healthcare Industry

Scalability and Flexibility

As the demand for healthcare services continues to grow, Virtual Nursing offers a scalable and flexible solution that can adapt to changing needs. Equum Medical's Virtual Nursing services provide healthcare providers with the tools and resources they need to:

  • Expand their capacity to care for more patients without compromising quality
  • Respond to fluctuations in demand, ensuring that they have the right resources in place at the right time
  • Adapt to evolving healthcare trends and challenges, staying ahead of the curve in an ever-changing industry

Environmental Sustainability

Virtual Nursing also contributes to environmental sustainability by reducing the need for transportation and the associated carbon emissions. By enabling remote care, Equum Medical's Virtual Nursing services help to:

  • Minimize the environmental impact of patient transfers and consultations
  • Promote a greener, more sustainable healthcare model
  • Support healthcare providers in their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and embrace sustainable practices

Equum Medical's Virtual Nursing services are transforming the healthcare landscape, offering a forward-thinking solution that addresses the challenges of today and tomorrow. By leveraging cutting-edge telehealth technologies and a team of skilled nurses, we're breaking down barriers to care, promoting health equity, and fostering a more sustainable, patient-centered healthcare experience. Join us in embracing the future of healthcare and discover the difference that Virtual Nursing can make in your organization.

Equum Medical's Virtual Nursing Service Lines

Equum Medical offers a range of Virtual Nursing services designed to meet the diverse needs of healthcare providers and patients. Equum provides hospitals with highly experienced nurses who understand telehealth, emergent care, admissions and discharge protocols. Equum's RN's serve as a value added resource, helping the bedside team with tailored tasks to help facilitate improved admission and discharge processes as well as providing mentorship when needed. The flexible Virtual Nurse Program from Equum supports three critical areas:

  1. Admissions

    1. Collaborate with transfer center to move patients from outside hospitals to the floor/ICU i.e.., follow up on room readiness
    2. Work with the ER to reduce wait times for admissions and help drive down left without being seen (LWBS) rates
    3. Review orders and make necessary phone calls to facilitate care, i.e., radiology, pharmacy, or blood bank
    4. Act as double-check for admission checklist especially during periods of high census or overload
  2. Hospital Stay

    1. Act as second signature for medications and blood administration
    2. Facilitate phone calls on behalf of the managing nurse to family, providers, or ancillary departments
    3. Guide new nursing staff just completing orientation
    4. Support per diem and travel nursing staff regarding health system standards, policy, and procedure
    5. Identify and communicate potential discharge patients based on unit / health system standards
    6. Perform 24-hour nursing chart checks – all orders completed / addressed
  3. Discharge

    1. Ensure readiness of patients identified for discharge per health system standards
    2. Obtain and/or review discharge orders
    3. Perform discharge teaching – medications, signs/symptoms of when to call the physician, wound care
    4. Observe teach-back of discharge instructions
    5. Follow up on pharmacy fill of discharge medications
    6. Perform medication reconciliation
    7. Make the appropriate discharge appointments e.g.: primary care provider, PT/OT, etc.
    8. Provide the nursing report to long-term care or rehabilitation center

Embracing the Future of Healthcare with Equum Medical

Equum Medical's Virtual Nursing services represent the future of healthcare, offering an innovative solution to the challenges faced by healthcare providers and patients alike. By embracing this cutting-edge approach, we can enhance the quality of care, optimize resources, and create a more efficient, patient-centered healthcare experience.

From Bedside to Webside, Connected Nursing

Virtual Nursing is transforming the way we deliver patient care, and Equum Medical is at the forefront of this revolution. By leveraging advanced telehealth technologies and a team of skilled nurses, we're helping healthcare providers overcome challenges, improve patient outcomes, and create a better healthcare experience for all. Embrace the power of Virtual Nursing with Equum Medical and be a part of the change that's shaping the future of healthcare.

service as a platform a new way to think about healthcare delivery

 

View on Forbes.com here

I know it is a well-documented issue, but it is hard to overstate the true scale of the predicament faced by the U.S. healthcare system. Experienced physicians, nurses and allied health professionals have been lost to retirement and resignation: In fact, in a survey led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital investigators (via The Harvard Gazette), 28.7% of healthcare workers reported an intent to leave their job. Americans’ life expectancy is falling. Patients are lined up on gurneys for hours in hallways waiting for inpatient beds or transfer to a more appropriate care setting. Hospitals are closing services and laying off staff. Large, internationally renowned healthcare systems are reporting losses in the billions of dollars. Solutions are needed, stat, and should be adapted in creative ways to fit organizations’ unique needs. This is why I have been thinking a lot lately about the word “platform.”

A New Approach To Healthcare Platforms

It’s a term everyone in business understands. It usually describes hardware and software that facilitates the standardization of processes and workflows to achieve operational efficiencies and better outcomes.

In my field of healthcare, “platform” most often references the electronic medical record (EMR), which provides secure access by clinicians, business office staff and others on an as-needed basis to patients’ medical histories and current status. There are myriad other platforms within a health system that either do or don’t link up to the EMR, including those for radiology, purchasing and supplies, infection control and revenue cycle management. In some cases, they work well together. In others, not so much.

I run a telehealth company but have found that the word telehealth has become a stand-in for technology, which many organizations can't afford anymore unless it has an immediate ROI. My company doesn't sell technology; we provide the people and processes that drive telehealth, using whatever technology the hospital or system has at hand or we recommend. There are other models out there, but our “platform” is a national network of doctors working remotely—usually from home—and virtual nurses who help support bedside staff, many of whom are younger nurses who lost a generation of veteran RN mentors to retirement and resignation.

I am trying out a new phrase, “service as a platform,” to describe this model. Many health systems are confronting the fact that they have disparate telehealth systems spread across the enterprise. Some larger organizations have dozens of systems, legacies of one-off programs such as telestroke and more recent panic-buying during the height of the pandemic. Few of these systems communicate with one another; they are used for different purposes and have different workflows.

From hundreds of conversations with leaders of hospitals and systems large and small, I am sensing a growing understanding that telehealth, if implemented systemically, can play a huge role in helping healthcare emerge from its current state. Health systems are maturing from panic buying to thoughtful enterprise-wide telehealth strategies in inpatient care and beyond.

This isn’t just about filling gaps in care; it’s about a complete redesign of care delivery through optimized clinical workflows, streamlined administrative tasks and improved care coordination.

How To Develop A Service As A Platform Model

If your organization wants to offer this model to healthcare facilities, remember that success with acute care telehealth is dependent on relationships. You need to have first-rate doctors and other health professionals who are licensed to practice in the states you serve and who can prescribe medicines and other treatments. The virtual doctor should also be able to instantly access the electronic medical record. Without all of that, telehealth providers are limited to providing generic advice and guiding a bedside care provider through a procedure.

Telehealth providers should also be dedicated to a system or a few hospitals, so they learn the culture, processes and the people who work bedside. Healthcare is a team activity, and a doctor who just drops in via video every so often is likely to provide less value to the hospital than a doctor who is on a first-name basis with the client's medical staff.

Much of the history of telehealth service providers is in single clinical applications, such as telestroke and cardiac care. Today, many hospitals and health systems need help across the enterprise. For example, health systems might need support from psychiatrists for treating behavioral health and addiction issues, including the fentanyl epidemic and a growing crisis of youth suicidality. According to a 2018 report from the University of Michigan School of Public Health Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center (via the Association of American Medical Colleges), more than half of all U.S. counties had no psychiatrists at the time of the report. At the same time, patient acuity may require you to provide tele-intensivists as part of your platform to manage a wide range of critical care needs.

A key to care quality, patient satisfaction and better outcomes is keeping patients flowing to appropriate care locations. ER doctors are often overwhelmed by surges of patients, which can be unpredictable if patients delay seeking treatment until they are critically ill and arrive by ambulance. Others, lacking health insurance or facing huge deductibles and copayments, may wind up using the ER for primary care. A complete telehealth service platform should include capabilities for assessing and moving patients out of the ER as quickly as possible and following them through the care process, avoiding “hot spots” such as radiology and using the medical record to make sure information flows with the patient.

As I mentioned previously, telenursing is now something any virtual care organization should consider including in their offerings. Many nurses left bedside care in the past two years. If they work for a telehealth company, these nurses can provide high-quality remote care.

Healthcare is famous for its variability. One literature review estimated that roughly a quarter of all health spending in the U.S. is wasted due to failure of care delivery, failure of care coordination, overtreatment or low-value care, pricing failure, fraud and abuse and administrative complexity. Efforts to turn around in this situation have run into myriad obstacles. Telehealth service platforms should ensure best practices are finally carried out across the care continuum.

For these reasons and more, I believe service-as-a-platform telehealth has matured from a pilot to a significant medical and financial benefit for organizations.

a doctor who has lived the2

 

Equum Medical’s Alin Gragossian, DO, brings a unique understanding to treating seriously ill patients. She spent more than a decade honing her skills in emergency and critical care medicine. Unlike her peers she also spent a lot of time in the ICU as a patient. She had a heart transplant, and as a result of the drugs she was administered she needed both hips replaced. All before turning 33.

In late December 2018 Gragossian thought she was wrapping up a residency in emergency medicine at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia. She hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of weeks and had a bad cough. Then she started experiencing shortness of breath. A friend who hadn't seen her for a while told her she looked ill. Thinking she had some kind of flu, she decided to go to the ER where she had worked a shift the previous day, this time to get medical attention for herself. She was exhausted. “I just wanted antibiotics and sleep,” she said. One of the attending physicians in the ER told her there were signs of something serious going on and she was going to stay until it could be diagnosed.

That night, Alin went into heart failure. She doesn’t remember much after the rapid response team arrived at her bedside. She awoke intubated and on a ventilator. And then she was put into a medically induced coma in an effort to stabilize her to buy time while doctors raced to figure out what was causing her symptoms. She was taken to the catheterization lab, her heart getting worse by the minute. She was put on medications just to keep her heart pumping.

layer 3Alin was ultimately diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart chambers enlarge to the point of preventing normal blood flow. If it goes on long enough, it can lead to heart failure, as it did in her case. She was finally told that her heart muscles were so damaged that only a transplant could save her. She was transferred to the University of Pennsylvania system where on Jan. 15, 2019, 11 days after being placed on the heart transplant waiting list, she was, as she wrote in her Instagram blog, “reborn with a new heart, all thanks to a selfless organ donor.”

After a few months spent recuperating in her native Los Angeles, Alin returned to Philadelphia to complete her residency, and then landed a fellowship in critical care medicine at Mount Sinai Health System in New York. “I had the opportunity to take care of transplant patients.,” she says. “It has been especially rewarding to connect with patients and families on such a deep level in the different ICUs, especially since I have been through some of what some of my patients are going through.”

layer 1

Amazingly, two more surgeries awaited her in New York. She was diagnosed with avascular necrosis, first in her left hip joint and then, months later, in her right, both a result of the steroids that she had taken for the heart transplant. “I had been in so much pain for months and had no idea where it was coming from,” she says. “I thought I was going crazy. It isn’t every day that a 32-year-old with a heart transplant needs new hips in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.”

Even though her immune system was compromised by the anti-rejection drugs she had to take, she was able to use protective equipment to complete her residency and fellowship.

She could do in-person care but relishes the opportunity to work with patients and providers at many types of hospitals. “Being immunocompromised, telehealth allows me to continue to work with patients and collaborate with colleagues while at a distance which I consider a better option for my health and situation. Telehealth supports my choice,” she says of her move to telehealth at Equum.

Her experiences have changed her outlook on work and life. She has worked with the American Heart Association and Donate Life America and serves as a member of the Transplant Community Advisory Council of the American Society of Transplantation, focusing on heart failure awareness and the importance of registered organ donation.

Her lived experience has taught her the importance of establishing a human connection between physicians and their patients. ‘’No matter who you are or what you know, being a patient is not easy,” she says. “I was always so appreciative of doctors and nurses who did the little things that made my patient experience so much better, every single day.”

collaborative virtual care

Equum Medical’s Virtual Care Collaboration Center (VCCC) near Nashville, Tenn., has become a thriving hub of real-time remote monitoring, with a unique mix of visual observation, expert nurse oversight and physician guidance to stop adverse events before they occur. The experience has exceeded our high hopes, with data-driven workflows making telehealth more seamless. It has truly been a fulfilling experience to guide this effort, and Equum looks forward to exceeding expectations.

The VCCC eliminates the need to divert critical nursing assistant resources to sit in at-risk patients’ rooms to keep them safe. Equum is one of the pioneers in remote sitting, and we are the first to pair that service with highly experienced RNs, who oversee the safety specialists and can step in when there is a case involving the need for medical intervention. The nurses in turn can consult with Equum’s physician teams. The center brings together three of our service lines – Virtual Nursing, Virtual Sitter and Remote Patient Monitoring of vital signs – under one roof.

For more than a decade, Equum has been increasing local and regional satisfaction and trust to providers large and small through our ProviderPODTM model – multispecialty groups of physicians drawn from our national provider network who work from secure remote locations to fill hospital gaps in staff and expertise. In contrast, the VCCC is all about hybrid care, where efficient, efficacious services converge to take advantage of a hospital’s existing telehealth technology or that of one of our partner companies.

With the need for these services exploding, we are staffing up big-time. Not surprisingly, a lot of my time is spent interviewing job candidates. With so many talented nurses having left the bedside in the past two years to burnout from 24-hour shifts and COVID, the level of talent we are getting is high. Many experienced nurses are tired of days on their feet, lower pay and dangerous working conditions. For them, Equum is a perfect fit.

The patients we monitor

  • 57% confused
  • 29% poor short-term memory
  • 28% impulsive
  • 13% psych

At the VCCC we've helped avoid dozens of falls and a surprising number of attempted elopements. I am most impressed by the thousands of hours of nursing resources we are giving back to hospitals monthly.

Training days

Virtual safety specialist hires begin with the basics, a full day of virtual training using modules we built in HealthStream, including working through a full range of patient encounter scenarios that will soon be very real. The new hires must be quick to learn the monitoring software we use, so they can effectively document interventions while watching a dozen patients and calling for staff to come to the rescue when needed. The remaining education comes in one-on-one work with an Equum trainer and time spent watching patients on screen and getting more comfortable with the interactive tools in the system.

The need for continual training arose immediately, as in our first week of go live with our newest client, we were asked to monitor psych patients in two units. In years of doing this kind of work I would say behavioral health is not exactly a way to ease into video monitoring. It usually is rolled out to prevent patient falls. We had to learn fast the many dos and don’ts of working with behavioral health patients. And yet our early work was so successful that our program was rolled out to the whole hospital just four days after implementation.

vccc image 2

Another task we have is monitoring neuro patients, many with traumatic brain injuries. They lack awareness of their surroundings and can be especially impulsive in getting out of bed. At the same time the nature of their injuries is such that they simply cannot afford to fall.

The personal stories of lives being protected are already piling up, but every once in a while you get a case that truly warms the heart. We had a young patient whose watchful and worried mother finally had to go to her workplace for a few hours. Our team checked in with the boy continually, so he knew he was being cared for in his mother’s absence.

Our clients don't have enough nurses and certainly can’t continue to spend millions of dollars on one-to-one sitters. Equum gets nursing assistants back to regular duties, freeing RNs to work at the top of their licenses. Our virtual safety specialists at-risk patients in bed, meet routine requests, speak with families and more. Our biggest hope is for the day when what we do no longer needs to be called telehealth – just another part of the care team.

Taking a strategic approach to virtual nursing: The top 3 do's and don'ts

This article originally appeared on Becker's Hospital Review

The persistent nursing shortage has pushed many hospitals and health systems toward innovative nursing models as a means to maximize staff, improve patient satisfaction and reduce costs.

But there's a lot for healthcare leaders to consider before implementing technology platforms, such as virtual nursing, to address these issues.

In a recent interview with the Becker's Healthcare Podcast, FJ Campbell, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Nashville, Tenn.-based Ardent Health Services, and Bonnie Clipper, BSN, Founder and CEO of Innovation Advantage, shared clear and compelling guidance to help healthcare organizations approach virtual nursing strategically.

With insights and lessons learned from Ardent’s virtual nursing pilot and perspective on key use cases for virtual nursing and pitfalls to avoid, the key takeaways below reflect their top "do's" and "don'ts"

Don't:

  1. Approach virtual nursing as simply (and quickly) implementing video conferencing capabilities with tools like tablets and mobile carts
    1. Doing so adds more work for overburdened bedside caregivers to locate, sanitize, provide technological support, etc.
    2. Your organization will be less likely to address the larger paradigm shift in care models, long-term enhancements of new workflows and simplicity of system integrations needed to transform care
  2. Be wedded to your legacy systems
    1. Many established vendors are rebranding existing technology platforms and services as virtual nursing but may not be agile enough to iterate quickly, integrate appropriately and execute at scale to meet rapidly evolving market needs.
  3. Select a vendor that is just a "one trick pony" for limited use cases
    1. Opportunities for improving additional clinical and operational workflows are plentiful, and wasting time on the wrong technology or partner out of the gate will quickly become limiting and put you behind.
    2. Introducing virtual nursing as yet another point solution will add complexity and cost, versus a platform approach that will minimize disparate products for related use cases such as virtual sitting, falls prevention, staff safety, voice capture for documentation, hand hygiene compliance, quality and regulatory reporting and more

Do:

  1. Lead with trusted, experienced nurses from your own organization to serve as the virtual nursing team
    1. The quick win for bedside nurses is easing their workloads and reducing burden, with confidence that those tasks will be done timely and completely, while also yielding the greatest ROI for your organization.
    2. This approach also will help to retain your most senior nurses and attract new bedside nurses.
  2. Think transformatively to embrace a paradigm shift in care delivery
    1. Reimagine new care models broadly powered by virtual inpatient care, including not only nursing but also virtual attending physicians, virtual intensivists and more.
    2. Recognizing that basic, inpatient virtual visits soon will be table stakes, select a technology partner that ensures virtual nursing is operationally enhanced and optimized for quality, safety and compliance with embedded continuous ambient monitoring and artificial intelligence.
  3. Collaborate with peers to accelerate and reduce risk in the journey
    1. To cut through the increasing noise on this topic, a group of industry leaders have recently launched an emerging thought leadership hub. Healthcare leaders who are considering implementing or are in the process of piloting virtual nursing can check out virtualnursing.com and register to connect with like-minded peers, curate relevant content and share experiences.

 

joining the telemedicine revolution one doctor’s experience

By Adam Keene, MD, MSc

In my prior role as the director of a 10-bed neuroscience ICU in a tertiary care medical center, I spent most of my workday coordinating the care of fewer than a dozen patients at a time. These patients often had multiple subspecialty teams assisting with their care, leaving me with only a few critical decisions to make. The amount of resources put into treating these patients far exceeded what was available to most critically ill patients in the United States.

Today, that scenario is still playing out in large academic medical centers. But for most hospitals and systems, resources are much more limited. As healthcare confronts multiple challenges of costs, rising patient acuity and the exodus of burned-out physicians and other clinical staff, this disparity is only getting worse. Gaps in care that impact quality, safety, patient satisfaction and outcomes are widening.

This is why after decades of bedside care I joined a small but growing cadre of highly trained medical  subspecialists who fulfill most of their clinical and educational duties virtually. This move has greatly expanded my ability to make positive contributions to both clinical care and teaching.

Via a variety of telehealth technologies, I am able to apply my years of training and experience in critical care medicine, infectious diseases and neurocritical care to the bedside of patients in some of the most remote and resource-limited hospitals in the country. Not only am I able to see many more patients in a single day, but the amount of benefit derived by my personal involvement in the care of each of these patients is much greater. This has been extremely fulfilling.

Similarly, telemedicine has greatly expanded my ability to teach other medical professionals. In my past position as the director of a large critical care medicine fellowship, I would spend most of my time teaching one or two doctors who were toward the end of their five to eight years of clinical training. These fellows were selected as part of a highly competitive process and had already received much more time in training than your average physician. Although these rounds made for highly interesting and sometimes fruitful discussions, the amount of new knowledge that I felt was acquired by my fellows each day was limited.

Now that I round at multiple hospitals daily, I am able to teach many more providers. They range from medical residents to general practitioners, nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. At some of the more remote community hospitals where I do virtual rounds, they may be the only clinicians providing care at the bedside. The amount of up-to-date knowledge that I can convey to them is immense. Overall, they have been very appreciative of my assistance.

In order to prevent burnout and achieve healthy work-life balance, many younger physicians are now joining companies such as mine. I am excited to be working with them via our in-house provider education program. I have always been interested in using technology to foster new and innovative approaches to medical education. At my current company, there is such a natural fit between the continuing educational needs of providers and the ways I like to teach.

When I chose telemedicine over a primary bedside practice, I was concerned about its limitations. Happily, I have found that it has only expanded my ability to contribute to improving healthcare.

Adam Keene, MD, MS

adam keeneDr. Keene serves as an Attending Physician as well as the Director of Provider Education at Equum Medical. Keene is a Board-Certified physician having certifications in Critical and Neurocritical Care, Infectious Disease, Internal Medicine, as well as Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Dr. Keene completed his primary studies at Columbia University and Medical School at UCLA with post graduate training at New York University, Columbia and St. Vincent’s Medical Center. As the Director of Provider Education, Dr. Keene focuses on physician on-boarding and continuing education at Equum Medical and also practices as a telehealth intensivist.

The virtual RN

By Ashley VonNida, DNP, MBA, MSN, Chief Nursing Officer, Equum Medical

Last summer I made a career-changing decision to move from a prime nurse leadership post at one of our nation’s largest health systems to become Chief Nursing Officer of Equum Medical, a fast-growing telehealth services company. From the outside it might have seemed like I was just another burned-out healthcare executive fleeing Covid and its messy aftermath. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. I made the move to do my part to save our precious resources in bedside nursing.

Several years ago, long before the pandemic, I could see evidence of what was to come. The average nurse was getting older. We were witnessing the beginnings of burnout, as the patient population also was aging and getting more acute. The mental health crisis, now raging out of control, was starting to take hold. As we prepared for a nursing shortage, the nursing schools just weren’t able to produce enough graduates to meet rising needs, held back in large part by a lack of nurses willing to take faculty posts.

As Covid struck, anything keeping nurses satisfied and on the job disappeared, replaced by PPE shortages, longer shifts, mostly unvaccinated patients dying in unprecedented numbers, and staff scared of coming to work. Burnout was inevitable. I began to think about what came next. 

While the pandemic raged, like everyone else I began to learn about telehealth, not just as a way for physicians to check in with patients, but as a means of providing relief for bedside nurses. When the loss of some staff turned into an exodus of experienced, knowledgeable and talented RNs, I began to look more deeply at how we could hold hospital care together without the onsite level of nursing care we were used to. This was a problem that called for innovation.

In remaking the U.S. healthcare system, telehealth is a major piece of the puzzle, but we have to be purposeful and flexible in implementation. At Equum, which has added virtual nursing to its portfolio of physician support services, we see a dual opportunity. 

One is to help hospitals drive out expensive traveling nurses and stop the use of skilled nursing assistants as one-to-one patient sitters. A telehealth nurse can care for four to six patients simultaneously using video and audio. A virtual sitter can watch a dozen or more at a time.

I am overseeing the startup of Equum’s Virtual Care Collaboration Center, where all of this work will happen. We also seek to use the center to establish best practices in virtual care and redefine care delivery.

The other opportunity is to hire many of those experienced nurses and over time transfer their knowledge to a new generation of caregivers. If you are passionate about patient care and have mixed feelings about leaving the bedside, you now have options to provide patient care in a controlled environment that improves your life and those of countless patients at hospitals across the US. In the process you actually have a more varied and interesting job, minus the heavy lifting and 12-hour shifts. 

We aren’t looking to poach bedside nurses, just give those who may have resigned or retired without a plan, a place to complete their careers.

The bottom line for me is to bring the joy back to nursing, allowing nurses to work to the top of their licenses while staying connected with patients and their peers.

For those nurses and me, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime..

 

About Ashley VonNida, DNP, MBA, MSN, CNO Equum Medical 

Ashley VonNida, DNP, MBA, MSN, Chief Nursing Officer, Equum MedicalAshley is the Chief Nursing Officer for Equum Medical. In this role Ashley leads all nursing, clinical leadership and quality performance activities across the Equum business and professional services portfolio. VonNida heads Equum Medical’s Virtual Care Collaboration Center in Nashville, TN where clinical teams deliver both the Virtual Nursing and Virtual Sitter services. Ashley splits her time on strategic telehealth service product development as well as successfully implementing these services in Equum’s growing client base nationally. Ashley has over 25 years in the Healthcare setting, most recently serving in leadership roles at Community Health Systems and Tenet Healthcare. Ashley comes with her Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master’s in Business and Nursing. She has spent her career in the Acute Care setting improving patient outcomes and engaging Nursing to make a difference every day

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