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The Telenursing Revolution: Starting a New Nursing Gig Economy

Rose Watson Jan 20, 2022 10:13:59 AM
An orange banner reading: Telenursing Revolution Creating Flexible Nursing Roles. A brown-haired woman sitting in front of a computer with headphones in. And an orange and white background with icons indicating healthcare technology.

Becker’s Hospital Review reported in October of 2021 that 18% of healthcare workers quit their job during the pandemic and 79% stated that the worker’s shortage has impacted their workplace. It’s well known by this point that a large percentage of those resignations are nursing staff who had been facing long hours, stagnant wages, and increasing responsibilities even before the pandemic. That 18% may still be looking through the job market for new opportunities, and their training, experience, and qualifications make them extremely valuable to the healthcare industryBut can hospital systems develop flexible, well-balanced roles that could entice nurses back into healthcare? By embracing technology, organizations can create a new nursing gig economy that provides increased autonomy, flexible schedules, and remote options that could bring skilled nurses back, to diversify hospital workforces.  

Creating Infrastructure 

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to creating flexible acute nursing roles, especially anything requiring remote work, is the technology needed to properly conduct telenursing. However, as telehealth has boomed over the last two years, more and more products have become available to digitize the hospital room.  VirtuSense’s VSTOne remote patient monitoring and telemetry solution includes full telehealth capabilities that integrate with existing hospital technology—no additional tech carts or bulky equipment needed. VSTOne is completely HIPAA-compliant using encrypted audio and video. Once the solution is installed in patient rooms, care givers can connect with patients from anywhere as well as review 24/7 vitals monitoring and patient statuses. This allows telenurses to complete their responsibilities autonomously from the in-person nursing teams, completely lifting tasks off their shoulders.  

Creating Flexibility  

One way that hospital systems can open roles to more applicants is designing telenursing roles for better flexibility. Work from home options can bring a wider range of applicants to rural or isolated hospitals that may not have qualified options in their locality. Work from home allows nurses who may be immunocompromised or recovering from injury to re-enter the workforce without risking their health. Seasoned nurses on their way to retiring, can transition to a virtual mentoring role and train new nurses, keeping valuable experience and best practices in the organization.  

Creating Financial Benefit  

Telenursing allows an organization to diversify its nursing staff and find financially viable ways to support their in-person nursing teams. When considering the cost of travel nurses—some with salaries of $120-$140 an hour—many hospitals are keen to find solutions that fit long term. By creating part-time roles that focus on just one aspect of care, a hospital can hire many more hands at more sustainable wages. For example, hiring one travel nurse at a wage of $120 an hour would cost a hospital $4,800 per week (at a 40-hour week). For that same $4,800 the organization could hire 6 part-time (a 20-hour week) virtual admissions/discharge nurses at a wage of $40 per hour, or two full-time and one part-time virtual mentors at $50 per hour.  

This is the kind of role diversity that allows an organization to gradually build up a team that can work together sustainably in the long term, offers options that retain employees through challenging periods of life, and creates a healthier company culture. It gives nurses freedom from the rigidity of the field, while still using their certifications and education to help people heal.  

Find out more about how telenursing is upgrading acute care.  

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