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WellSpan uses AI to improve patient safety, address nursing burnout

WellSpan uses AI to improve patient safety, address nursing burnout

Our WellSpan hospitals are harnessing artificial intelligence to improve patient safety and address nursing burnout, through a new system that allows nurses and nursing assistants to virtually monitor patients and to virtually perform certain routine tasks. 

Called Artisight, the system now is being rolled out across our system with two programs that use a two-way audio/video system to virtually check on and engage with patients. Full implementation is expected by summer of 2024. 

The programs include: 

  • Virtual sitter, which allows a nursing assistant to use a computer module to remotely monitor patients who are at risk for falls, are forgetful, or may be impulsive about pulling out lines or tubes needed for their care.  
  • Virtual nurse, which allows a nurse to use a computer to remotely conduct discharges, admissions, and patient education, much like a video visit with a provider works. 

A pilot program at WellSpan Surgery & Rehabilitation Hospital, launched in August, showed positive results, including a 39% decrease in patient falls and a 25% improvement in well-being among nurses. 

"The system already is making a significant impact in the quality of care we provide to our patients," said Kasey Paulus, WellSpan senior vice president and chief nursing executive. "With the challenges our healthcare industry faces today, we are committed to augmenting our workforce, automating administrative tasks, and using technology alongside our dedicated care time to revolutionize how we deliver care." 

Artisight allows us to address the staffing challenges facing health systems by allowing virtual nursing staff to support our care teams at the bedside while improving care. It is part of our workforce transformation, which is redesigning how we deploy people, processes, and technology to provide care to patients in a tight labor market. 

It is just one example of how we are harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) for better care. In other areas across the WellSpan system, our radiologists are harnessing the power of Aidoc, which uses AI to quickly flag patient imaging results for abnormalities that might not be noticed by the human eye, while other providers are using a system called DAX, which uses AI and voice recognition to listen to and document a conversation between a provider and a patient, converting it into clinical notes. 

In the Artisight system, AI monitors patient movement, constantly learning and adapting, and can recognize when a patient moves into a position that puts the person at a higher risk of falling. Nursing assistant virtual sitters can communicate with the patient through the system, asking them not to get up and to wait for help, and alert nearby team members to quickly respond to the patient's room, if needed. 

The system allows us to deploy team members more efficiently because a nursing assistant can monitor up to 16 patients at a time, something that would not have been possible previously due to staffing constraints. 

Employees feel overall that the system is improving patient safety on the unit.

"Even when a caregiver isn't in the room, the patient is never alone," Paulus says. "Our team can quickly and effectively coordinate the care that the patient needs." 

With regard to virtual nursing, we asked our own teams for input on which workflows to target with virtual nursing. The nursing team picked admissions, discharges, and patient education. 

Virtual nursing provides a win-win for team members on both sides of the system. 

On average, having a dedicated team member virtually perform those tasks is saving other nurses two hours per shift, which frees them up for more direct patient care tasks. What's more nurses who are virtually doing admissions, discharges, and patient education report they feel they have more time to explain and answer questions because they don't have other patients requiring their direct care. 

Virtual nursing could be used for other purposes in the future, Paulus noted, such as pain reassessment.  

"Once you have the hardware in place – a camera, microphone, and computer monitor – you can expand the use of it," she said. 

The Artisight system also could be used for specialty consults and family care conferences. Interpreters can be invited virtually to participate as well, she noted. 

"While many AI solutions solve a single problem well, we are discovering that the Artisight platform may be able to solve many problems for us," says Dr. R. Hal Baker, senior vice president and chief digital information officer at WellSpan. "We're exploring those possibilities as we imagine what's next with this platform."