It’s no secret that the nursing profession is in crisis. Burnout, staffing shortages and resignations have prompted many health systems to seek innovative approaches to care delivery.
WellSpan Health, an eight-hospital health system based in Pennsylvania, is one of the many health systems across the country that are testing alternative methods of providing care. In August, the health system launched a virtual nursing pilot involving Artisight’s smart hospital platform. So far, WellSpan’s nurses “are loving it,” said Erin Langmead, the health system’s interim director of clinical informatics and physician informatics support.
“We cannot create more people, so we needed to come up with a way to support the people we have, including giving those staff members who are on light duty, close to retirement or simply burnt out an opportunity to stay in the workforce. Adding a virtual platform has allowed us to do just that,” she explained.
When evaluating virtual platform vendors, WellSpan was drawn to Artisight because the company “offers capabilities beyond virtual nurse and virtual sitter,” Langmead pointed out.
Virtual sitter technology allows a nursing assistant to remotely monitor patients for general safety concerns, falls and confusion. Virtual nurse technology assists nurses as the bedside with things like documentation, assessments and patient education. Beyond these two technologies, Artisight’s platform is designed to meet needs in other care areas, such as managing operating room capacity, provider rounding, translation services, hygiene compliance and e-consults, Langmead said.
Artisight — founded in 2015 and headquartered in Chicago — aims to help clinicians focus more on direct patient care by alleviating their administrative burden, explained Artisight President Stephanie Lahr.
The company’s smart hospital platform — which is EHR- and hardware-agnostic — uses ambient AI, including smart sensors and machine learning systems that are spread throughout hospitals. These systems work together to help with “everything from patient monitoring to managing hospital resources,” she declared.
“The platform utilizes computer vision and a robust multi-sensor network that adapts in real time to specific environments and workflows, unlocking previously inaccessible data. Our algorithms can do things like monitor for falls and pressure ulcers, and detect when a patient goes to and from an operating room. We can also enhance safety by alerting to potential violent events via voice command,” Lahr stated.
In addition to facilitating prevention and monitoring processes and improving operating room throughput, the system can also automate clinical documentation and help hospitals gather and utilize data more effectively, she added.
Nearly a dozen health systems use Artisight’s technology, including Northwestern Medicine and Avera Health. One of Artisight’s customers analyzed metrics regarding how much time the platform saved nurses in terms of time spent in the EHR, and they found that they were able to give nurses back 30 minutes per shift, Lahr noted.
“That’s an additional 30 minutes that can be spent providing hands-on care and interacting with patients,” she said. “A key focus for me as a doctor and a former health system leader is to bring the joy back to medicine for clinicians. I believe our technology is making great inroads toward that goal by giving them back precious time to focus on patients.”
WellSpan is currently using Artisight’s technology at four of its hospitals and is working to expand the system to more facilities, Langmead declared.
Through the pilot, the health system is gaining an understanding of which clinical tasks can be automated, which are uniquely human, and which fit somewhere in the middle. WellSpan is “redesigning processes to reflect these distinctions,” Langmead explained.
The health system is conducting ongoing employee engagement surveys to measure nurses’ satisfaction and wellbeing, as well as looking at patient experience Press Ganey scores. When evaluating the success of the pilot, WellSpan will focus on metrics having to do with burnout, turnover, nurse engagement, fall rates and sitter utilization, Langmead said.
“The first day one of our nurses was so excited that the virtual nurse completed discharge documentation for her that she said she was able to complete an entire med pass without interruption. They also really love the added benefit of having a patient sitter on the other side of the camera watching the high-risk patients. It gives them more peace of mind knowing that someone is helping to protect,” she remarked.
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