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Geisinger's Plan to Boost Quality and Patient Experiences Through Virtual Nursing

Analysis  |  By G Hatfield  
   March 22, 2024

Geisinger's CNE discusses their health system's goals for virtual nursing.

CNOs everywhere are talking about virtual nursing. Health systems across the country are utilizing their nurses and technology departments to create new programs that have the potential to revolutionize the industry.

Virtual nursing provides new opportunities for nurses to have more flexibility, and for hospitals to use their staff more efficiently. A single nurse can now observe more patients at once, and watch for signs of patient discomfort or distress. Tenured nurses can stay employed longer, without having to worry about working long shifts, and they can support new nurses virtually.

Additionally, many CNOs predict that virtual nursing will help fill the gaps from the nursing shortage, and many health systems have already seen positive results from their programs.

Janet Tomcavage, executive vice president and chief nurse executive at Geisinger, outlined what Geisinger wants to accomplish with their virtual nursing model.

Tomcavage is a part of the HealthLeaders Virtual Nursing Mastermind series, an exclusive, six-month series of calls and an in-person event where several health systems discuss the ins and outs of their virtual nursing programs.

Geisinger's goals

Geisinger is one of many health systems to embark on the virtual nursing journey, and according to Tomcavage, they are most excited to be fully leveraging technology for the first time as a way to support care. There are several goals that Geisinger has already begun to accomplish with their virtual nursing program.

The first has to do with the nursing shortage, which Tomcavage said everyone is aware of. While there are many things that need to be done to solve the workforce issue, virtual nursing is a key component that can help make a big impact.

"We think of it in terms of really opening up the workforce by creating… a new role for nurses to consider, especially later in their career," Tomcavage said, "those who maybe have left, now have options to come back."

The next area of focus at Geisinger is on care quality. According to Tomcavage, the acuity of patients in the hospital is much higher than it has been in the past, due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors. That along with lower tenure of the nursing staff has created several challenges.

"I think the virtual model can really help us enhance quality and things like fall prevention, hospital acquired pressure injuries…mentoring new graduate nurses…[and] patient education" Tomcavage said.

Another key goal is employee engagement, and how virtual nursing can help their nurses directly. Tomcavage explained how the response to the virtual nursing program has been overwhelmingly positive.

"Once [the nurses] really got a handle on what virtual nursing could do, they've been extremely positive about it," Tomcavage said.

The final area that Geisinger is focusing on is patient engagement and experience. According to Tomcavage, there was some apprehension about what the patient response to the virtual nurses would be, but patients have been enthusiastic.

"The virtual model gives patients that one-on-one time with nurses that's uninterrupted," Tomcavage said, "and you can get through an assessment and not miss anything."

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 exceling 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.


There is an opportunity to revolutionize nursing with virtual care models, and health systems across the country are currently taking the plunge.

At Geisinger, their virtual nursing program goals include addressing workforce shortages and improving care quality, employee engagement, and patient experiences.

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