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Here's How Virtual Nursing is Addressing Workforce Concerns

Analysis  |  By G Hatfield  
   June 10, 2024

Virtual nursing will address workforce shortage issues, say these nurse leaders.

Virtual nursing will open up a whole new realm of possibilities.

From admissions and discharges to patient monitoring, mentoring, and even at-home care, virtual care technology will push healthcare into the future.

The HealthLeaders Virtual Nursing Mastermind program participants met last week in Atlanta to discuss their virtual nursing programs and outcomes. There are several key points that CNOs can take back to their health systems and integrate into their own virtual nursing programs.

Building the workforce

First and foremost, virtual nursing is going to expand the capabilities of the nursing workforce. Many of the participants agreed that virtual nursing is one of the only answers to the nursing shortage.

According to the participants, tenured nurses are able to extend their careers virtually when working at the bedside is no longer a viable option. New graduate nurses from the next generation who expect to work digitally will be able to do so, and licensed nurses from all over can work remotely and provide care to other parts of the country.

Health systems should do what they are capable of when it comes to operationalizing virtual nursing programs. Some participants use a central telemedicine hub in their health systems for the virtual nurses, while others use telemedicine stations on or near the floor. Some are also exploring work-from-home strategies.

Many of the virtual nurses in the participants' health systems are centralized and working off of a task queue, and can move freely throughout the system to complete their work. Several of the participants agreed that shift flexibility is also necessary, to give nurses who have external needs the opportunity to work when it is best for them.

Choosing the technology

Technology is obviously one of the largest pieces of the virtual care puzzle. It is critical that CNOs and other leaders invest in the right technology that will help them meet their goals, while also remaining cost effective. Leaders should not be surprised, however, to get it wrong on the first try.

According to the participants, leaders have several options for virtual care technology. Many started simply with iPads and carts, which they said arenโ€™t long-termbut do enable them to get their programs off the ground.

When upgrading technology or starting at the beginning, several participating health systems outsourced to a third-party vendor, while others developed the technology in-house. One dilemma is whether to lease or buy the technology, since new devices are frequently updated to include the newest bells and whistles.

Most importantly, CNOs and other leaders should invest in technology that will actually be used by the care team. According to the participants, the nurses' experience with the platforms should provide them with a better, more efficient experience, because if they don't like the technology, it will not be used.

Gaining buy-in

One of the biggest challenges that CNOs and other nurse leaders will face when implementing virtual nursing programs is gaining buy-in from the rest of the C-suite.

CEOs and CFOs are largely concerned about ROI and how virtual nursing programs will save money. The participants recommended starting with concrete metrics like decreased discharge times to prove ROI. However, most metrics will depend on each health system's needs, and how they define ROI.

CNOs also need to provide their support to virtual nursing programs. According to the participants, there have been some concerns about ratio changes and nurses getting taken off the floor, and about how the technology will interfere with nurse workflows, which worries the nurses. This is why proper messaging, education, and a clear roll-out plan are critical, according to the participants.

The HealthLeaders Mastermind series is an exclusive series of calls and events with healthcare executives. This Virtual Nursing Mastermind series features ideas, solutions, and insights on excelling your virtual nursing program. Please join the community at our LinkedIn page.

To inquire about participating in an upcoming Mastermind series or attending a HealthLeaders Exchange event, email us at

G Hatfield is the nursing editor for HealthLeaders.


Virtual nursing will expand the capabilities of the nursing workforce, by keeping tenured nurses for longer and by attracting new generations of nurses who want to work differently.

Health systems should choose the technology that will address their needs and that the nurses will use effectively.

Leaders should use concrete metrics such as decreased discharge times to prove ROI for virtual nursing.

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