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UT Health East Texas launches virtual nursing across hospital network

Tyler, Texas (June 24, 2024) — UT Health East Texas today announced the launch of virtual nursing across its hospital network. Partnered with, the UT Health East Texas virtual nursing program is the first in the region. 

Virtual nursing empowers care teams to work more efficiently and drive improved clinical outcomes. Enabled by video communication with credentialed registered nurses (virtual nurses) and in-room smart sensors, the platform allows virtual nurses, who are employed by UT Health East Texas, to manage a wide variety of patient care tasks that do not require physical proximity, such as routine monitoring or providing education and discharge instructions. This enables bedside nurses to focus more time and attention on crucial hands-on care that only they can provide. Together, virtual and bedside nurses optimize admissions, rounding, discharge and other workflows, which aims to improve patient experience, staff retention and job satisfaction for the bedside caregiver.

“Incorporating frontline nurses’ expertise and opinions in vetting new technology such as virtual nursing platforms has been an essential piece of our innovation efforts,” said Donald Baker, regional president for UT Health East Texas. “We are deeply committed to leveraging technology to support our team members and help our hospitals and clinics improve the quality of care and experience provided. Now more than ever, retaining passionate, highly skilled caregivers and improving the work environment for frontline team members is critical to the success of all hospitals.”

The introduction of virtual nursing at UT Health East Texas offers nurses more flexibility and expands the pool of available nurses. The launch of the virtual nursing program included the hiring of 19 new registered nurses who will take on virtual care team roles, opening new career paths for experienced nurses.

“Integrating virtual nursing into our care delivery model helps ensure our team members are able to continue providing the best care for patients while also improving their work experience,” said Lecia Bowman, chief nursing officer at UT Health Tyler. “Nurses are passionate about caring for people and our new program allows them to focus more time on what they do best – taking care of others.”

Keshia Neal, RN, said she was inspired to become a nurse because of her mother, who has been a nurse for more than 50 years. Neal has been a bedside nurse for seven years and was working at UT Health Tyler when she learned about the opportunity and applied for a virtual nursing position.

“As a virtual nurse, you can really spend time with patients, help get them acclimated and give them the education they need for when they get home,” Neal said. “We take over that task of the admission and of the discharge, and it allows the bedside nurse to spend more time at the bedside focusing on patient care. This gives them more freedom and time to spend with their patients and I think they really appreciate it.”

Patient response to virtual nursing has been positive. Margueriete Jones, 62, was the first patient at UT Health Jacksonville to be seen by a virtual nurse, who helped make sure she was prepared for discharge after a weeklong hospital stay as she recovered from COVID-19 and gallbladder removal surgery.

“It was a 10 out of 10,” Jones said of her experience. “It was very good, very educational, and with the video screen, I could see her. She was very sweet and very educational and she took me through all my medications and how to do my (wound) dressings. It was very informative.”