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Federal grant will support expansion of innovative new care model

September 16 2015

CHI Health and Catholic Health Initiatives have received a three-year, $1.45 million grant from the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) to expand an innovative new approach to patient care that was first tested as a pilot program two years ago at St. Elizabeth.

The Virtually Integrated Care Team model – designed to increase individualized patient care and improve quality and outcomes by pairing video technology with a fundamental redesign of nursing roles – will now be expanded across St. Elizabeth’s entire adult inpatient unit.

Central to this new model is an emerging nursing role, a highly-trained, video nurse leader who coordinates care from a Virtual Command Center. The video nurse leader – an experienced clinician with a master’s degree and specific skills in systems development – creates the patient’s plan of care, provides comprehensive care management and works seamlessly with all members of the patient’s care team, including bedside caregivers and physicians.

The video-nurse leader has immediate access through the remote command center to the patient’s electronic health records, integrated medical device data and videoconferencing capabilities to interact with the patient and family. This makes it easier to develop and coordinate individual care plans, provide education and information to the patient and family, and prepare the patient for discharge.

Patients can also connect with the video nurse at any time to ask questions about their care. Patients are always asked for permission before the camera is turned toward them, and the camera is never used to record information.

“Our video nurse uses technology to give our patients even more one-on-one attention. With a push of a button, patients can reach a highly-trained nurse who can answer questions about their care," said Libby Raetz, vice president of patient care services at CHI Health St. Elizabeth. "Our patients have been very happy with this new model. As the landscape of health care continues to change, we are committed to providing the highest of level of care in the most cost effective way.”

With regulatory and market forces driving the need for care that delivers better health, higher quality, a superior consumer experience and lower cost, CHI is developing innovative programs and technologies in cooperation with the CHI Institute for Research and Innovation (CIRI), a wholly owned subsidiary of the national health system.

“This new integrated model of care keeps the patient at the center by combining advances in technology with a restructuring of roles that allows nurses to practice at the full extent of their education and training – and this results in care that is delivered more effectively and efficiently,” said Kathleen Sanford, CHI’s senior vice president and chief nursing officer. “The grant we’ve received provides external validation of the concept and the anticipated benefits of expanding the program to other CHI communities. With this model of care we can provide the right skill levels for the right patient needs at the right time.”

In September, a portion of the federal grant will be used to further expand the program at St. Elizabeth. In 2016, the program will be introduced at CHI Health Good Samaritan in Kearney. To date, surveys of patients who have participated in the program at St. Elizabeth indicate a 98 percent satisfaction rate.

“This partnership is a clear commitment to nurturing innovation from within to aid in increasing the quality of the care we provide in our communities,” said David Fine, President and CEO of CIRI. “This new integrated model of care keeps patients at the forefront while using clinical resources to sustain and advance excellence in quality health care.”

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