Health care organizations across the U.S. are under tremendous pressure as the growing need for nurses outpaces a shrinking workforce. There have been unprecedented challenges from the large, aging baby boomer population. Nurses are also getting older, with a median age of 52 — 4.7 million are projected to retire by 2030.
“None of us are going to have the complement of nurses that we would like to have moving forward, so we have to get creative with the way that we provide care,” says Jennifer Ball, director of virtual care at Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, Mo.
Health care systems like Saint Luke’s are increasingly turning to virtual nursing to address the shortage. Virtual nurses work in remote centers with videoconferencing technology to observe and answer questions from patients, speak with family members and ease the burden on bedside nurses by performing tasks that don’t require physical proximity, such as conducting admissions interviews and providing discharge instructions.
“What better way to retain those experienced nurses who might be thinking of retiring or leaving the field early?” Ball says. “It’s a great way to allow them to continue their careers and for us to have access to all of their wonderful knowledge.”
Melissa Delaney is a freelance journalist who specializes in business technology. She is a frequent contributor to the CDW family of technology magazines.