Valley-based health care provider uses tech to boost quality of care

Dec 4, 2023, 4:25 AM | Updated: 12:19 pm

HonorHealth Paradise Valley location opens...

PHOENIX — As the nation deals with an ongoing nursing workforce shortage, Valley-based health care provider HonorHealth is using technology to lighten the burden on staff at one hospital.

At John C. Lincoln Medical Center in Phoenix, patients may get their typical care from in-person nurses, but they’ll also receive help from virtual nurses.

These virtual nurses can monitor rooms and talk with patients via a large television screen.

HonorHealth’s chief nursing executive Dr. Kathi Zarubi explains these nurses can take care of administrative work while in-person nurses focus on delivering the actual care.

“Sometimes these administrative tasks can get in the way of that [care],” Zarubi said. “This model has really given our nurses the time back they can use at the bedside.”

Virtual nurses can also be present in multiple areas very quickly and keep an eye on multiple patients, which is especially important when safety becomes a factor.

“We have a lot of new graduate nurses in our hospital environments now,” Zarubi said. “Which is awesome, we love our new grads, but they just don’t have the experience yet sometimes.”

But these virtual nurses will have a minimum of five years of experience and will be able to share those skills with in-person staff in real time.

While the program is still in a pilot phase at John C. Lincoln Medical Center, patients have been able to experience the new approach.

HonorHealth uses “Patient Experience Scores” to track how patients feel about the quality of care they received, and according to the health provider, those scores have increased since the pilot program rolled out.

Zarubi explains it ultimately makes the hospital setting better for everyone involved.

“Being a nurse, of course, I’ve always said: ‘Happy nurse, happy patient,'” she said.

The program is also a direct result of changes in health care introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, where health professionals relied more on technology and virtual visits to deliver care to patients.

Zarubi says she doesn’t expect these changes to go away and says HonorHealth is looking for ways to innovate typical health care settings.

“Can we continue to do things the same way and get the same results?” Zarubi said. “I think the health care environment is changing, we have got to change with it.”

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Valley-based health care provider uses tech to boost quality of care