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How AI in healthcare could change patient care

ai in healthcare, virtual sitting,

In recent memory, no technology has so quickly penetrated the cultural zeitgeist as artificial intelligence (AI). At an ever-increasing pace, AI is being hailed as the hero capable of fixing everything from world hunger to climate change. Companies across the globe are racing to utilize AI to automate, simplify, and rationalize manual tasks across every industry, including healthcare.  

At the same time, healthcare has been grappling with tremendous cost pressure & staffing shortages for years. Over the past decade, hospitals have focused on utilizing technology to help drive significant change through: 

  1. Digitization of documentation and communication tools
  2. Consolidation of health systems in search of economies of scale 
  3. Virtualization of traditional care models to include remote caregivers and stakeholders 

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic poured gasoline over the fire of those pressures; and hospitals quickly implemented changes to adapt.  In many cases, integrated tools are not delivering the simplicity needed; shared data is not delivering the actionable insights that caregivers need; and automation is not allowing care teams to scale that care to an increasing number of patients.   

Clearly, there’s no “silver bullet” to remedy all the chaos and pressure.  Many key plays need to be run, integrations must deepen, technology needs to be more open to 3rd party access, and virtual experience needs to seamlessly merge with care workflows.   

How can AI in healthcare help?

As an industry, we seem to latch on to the hope of the next big thing. Waves of opportunity have come our way with Meaningful Use, Actionable Insights, multi-use case infrastructure like Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS), and more. What does that mean for AI? How can we focus our efforts to soak up as much of the wave as it rolls in?   

There are a few key questions we need to answer in determining if utilizing AI in healthcare will truly be the savior it needs, or if it’s just another passing technology fad that won’t deliver on its promises:  

What is AI? 
What use case examples of AI in healthcare are primed for change? 
What risks need to be top of mind when implementing AI in healthcare settings? How can those risks be mitigated? 

What is AI? 

Let’s tackle what that term, “artificial intelligence,” means.  Promising examples of AI in healthcare settings include references to the following technologies:  

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) – helps take data from unstructured to structured 
  • Conversational Bots – virtual agents that manage conversations with patients via text, IM, etc. 
  • Predictive analytics – mines data to plug into algorithms that project things like patient risk 
  • Ambient Listening – listens to live audio to turn conversations into notes or identify risks 
  • Computer Vision – watches live video to identify patterns or risks 
  • Remote Patient Monitoring – uses data from medical devices to anticipate risks or care needs 

What use case examples of AI in healthcare are primed for change?

Despite AI’s newfound popularity, some technologies on the list above have been around in healthcare for years. NLP is being used to turn dictated notes into actionable work, like orders, and Predictive Analytics are employed by Populational Health technologies to help target specific populations for focused care based on their risk.  

So, if AI in healthcare isn’t anything new, why is it so prevalent in today’s industry discussions? For one, the underlying technology has changed and improved very quickly, making it a more powerful tool. For another, the volume of data needed to improve AI models is becoming more manageable to achieve. As a perfect example, ChatGPT-4 took social media by storm as people began asking for AI to produce legal contracts, bedtime stories for their kids, and essays for homework assignments. Mere weeks later, new forms of this AI were appearing as Chrome extensions that were already better, faster, and stronger than the ones before. The more AI is used, the more valuable it will become because every use provides meaningful learning. 

All this progress makes the potential for AI in healthcare more optimistic. Experts agree that, among other things, AI will be key in supporting the push towards more impactful virtual care models. More specifically, this will be achieved through the use of predictive analytics, computer vision, and ambient listening.  

During the time that AI entered the conversation, two other important advancements also happened: 

  • Technology continued to get faster, stronger, and cheaper. Cameras, microphones, speakers, and other equipment necessary to facilitate virtual interactions are now available in more patient rooms than ever before. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic opened patients’ and caregivers’ eyes to virtual care, making these interactions more trusted and commonplace. 

AI can help turn heavily user dependent devices into seamlessly integrated, clinical workflow-enabling devices. We are entering a moment where the true potential of virtual care is being unlocked, facilitated by the growing prospect of the availability of an AI-enabled virtual care device in every hospital room.  

What risks need to be top of mind when implementing AI in healthcare settings?  

While one may not be worried about what’s at stake when using AI to help write a bedtime story, the stakes of healthcare are much higher. AI-enabled devices in every hospital room could bring virtual care to life, but there are important questions to consider. 

  • Are cameras and speakers now the equivalent of a door to the patient room?  
  • Who decides when the door should be open or closed?   
  • How do patients, staff, and visitors know that the doors are open, and what does that mean?   
  • What happens if multiple virtual care team members try to open that door and walk in at the same time?   
  • Which patients do, or do not, qualify for virtual care models and participation? 
  • The list goes on…. 

So, is AI just a short-lived buzzword, or are there clinically relevant use cases that you can take advantage of? Industry experience tells us to avoid getting our hopes up, else our belief in a healthy future might be dashed. We now know that failure is not an option. If we can all see the challenges for what they are and take a mindful approach to what and how we implement, then AI in healthcare may be the ‘silver bullet’ we’ve been promised for years. 

How Holzer improved care while progressing from virtual sitting to virtual nursing

By Lisbeth Votruba, MSN, RN, Chief Clinical Officer

The Goal:
• Improve patient safety
• Reduce fall risk
• Increase access to specialty care
• Free up CNA and bedside nurses for other activities

The Results:
1. Success of the virtual sitting program:
• Saved costs
• Improved patient and staff satisfaction
2. Progression into virtual nursing:
• Utilization of the same technology
• Further cost savings
• Enhanced patient and staff satisfaction

Nursing shortages and associated costs are not going away. While RN turnover has dropped from 22.5% in 2022 to 18.4% in 2023, the turnover rate for nursing assistants increased from 33.7% to 41.8% in the same period. And the ongoing costs as nurses continue to leave the profession are high. Each RN that leaves costs an average hospital $56,350, totaling roughly $4M – $6M per year, according to the 2024 NSI National Health Care Retention and RN Staffing Report. Bottom line: nurses need sustained support or the profession will continue to decline in well-being and in numbers.

These challenges hit particularly hard in smaller, community-based organizations. Holzer Health System is a not-for-profit, multi-disciplinary regional health system that provides the full continuum of care for its communities with locations throughout southeastern Ohio and western West Virginia. The system includes two hospital locations, including a rural critical access hospital, as well as multiple clinical locations, long-term care entities, and more than 180 providers in more than 30 medical specialties.

Matthew L. Hemphill MSN, RN, CNML, Director of Acute Care Nursing at Holzer Health System, described the problem: “We want to keep as many of our patients here rather than transferring them out to the nearest tertiary center two hours away. While we did have a small pool of one-to-one sitters, staffing was a challenge. Many needs were going unmet. There were numerous patients who required more monitoring than we could offer.”

Improving care, beginning with virtual sitting

The COVID-19 pandemic made matters worse, so Holzer had to come up with a workable plan that would allow it to augment its existing staff while keeping a larger volume of patients safe. 

Holzer undertook a major initiative to improve patient safety, reduce fall risk and increase access to specialty care by securing a grant through the FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program to implement an inpatient virtual sitting solution.

With the aid of the grant, Holzer implemented AvaSure’s virtual care technology to support virtual sitters, who watch over patients via video-and-audio connections to enhance patient safety, such as reducing patient falls and elopement. The health system implemented 16 devices, including four ceiling-mounted devices, 12 mobile devices and a centralized monitoring station. The primary goal was to enable and expand the use of virtual sitters, freeing up CNAs and bedside nurses for other care activities.

After seeing the virtual sitting program’s success in saving costs, as well as improving patient and staff satisfaction, the health system progressed into virtual nursing using the same technology platform. AvaSure’s intelligent virtual care platform enables virtual sitting, virtual nursing and specialty medical consults.

Progressing to inpatient virtual nursing and realizing multiple improvements

When Holzer progressed from virtual sitting to virtual nursing, one key principle it followed was to structure the use of virtual sitters and nurses so that all nurses work at the top of their licenses. This enables a care model where RNs, CNAs, and VRNs perform the most-appropriate patient care activities based on their skills and experience.

Using the AvaSure platform, scarce specialists in neurology, nephrology, diabetes education and wound care can serve more patients in both facilities, the main Gallipolis Hospital and the rural critical access Jackson Hospital.  

For example, Holzer has one certified wound and ostomy nurse (CWON) serving both facilities, located 30 miles apart. Natalie Gardner BSN, RN, CWON, CFCS, described the benefits: “This has provided a way for me to do video consults with the Jackson facility which saves precious time as well as mileage. The staff take the device to the patient’s room, remove their dressings, and position the patient so that I can see the wound. This leaves me more time to spend with all patients by eliminating the time it would take to drive to Jackson and back.” Giving patients easier access to specialists improves care and facilitates early intervention to prevent transfers from the critical access hospital to the main facility.

Continuing to hone the virtual nursing program

For community health systems, the strain on resources will continue for the foreseeable future. Progressing on a path from virtual sitting to virtual nursing extends precious resources to enable high quality patient care, while allowing all nursing staff to work at the top of their skills and licenses. Holzer is continuing its path to expand its virtual nursing program to encompass more activities across more inpatient care units. At every stage, Holzer is delivering better patient outcomes while enabling a care model that gives nurses more time for their most satisfying work – spending time on direct patient care.

Addressing workforce challenges and keeping patients safer: How CHS is deploying virtual patient monitoring

Explore their journey of virtual patient monitoring from evaluation to implementation to outcomes, including a significant reduction in falls, zero patient falls with injuries in 2022, and improved staffing efficiencies.

Challenge: Reducing patient falls

CHS, one of the largest provider organizations in the United States, operates across 43 distinct markets in 15 states. Their decade-long commitment to high reliability, safety, and harm reduction aligned perfectly with the need to reduce falls during the pandemic in 2021. Hospitals across the nation have been grappling with staffing shortages, leading to nurse burnout and a rise in adverse patient events. As the personnel issue worsened, many healthcare systems asked: How can hospitals create a care system that reduces the need for 1:1 patient sitters while allowing nurses to focus on critical patient care?

Evaluating solutions: Evidence and scalability

In their quest for the right solution, CHS employs a rigorous evaluation process. Their primary criteria encompass two crucial elements: evidence-based effectiveness and scalability. First and foremost, CHS seeks evidence-backed solutions, emphasizing clinical outcomes and operational impacts. This commitment to data-driven decision-making ensures that any chosen solution delivers tangible benefits across both patient care and operational efficiency.

The second key criterion is scalability. Given CHS’s size, the ability to initially implement a solution at a few select hospitals and then scale it elsewhere across the organization is paramount. In this regard, AvaSure’s TeleSitter solution met these criteria for virtual patient monitoring, making it a natural choice to address their needs.

Phase 1 deployment: Keys to success

CHS’s journey with the AvaSure TeleSitter solution commenced with a pilot deployment at three hospitals and then scaled to 17. This pivotal phase yielded notable success, attributed to several critical factors:

  • Intentionality: The deployment of virtual patient monitoring was marked by a deliberate and well-thought-out strategy. Every step was carefully considered, from initial planning to execution, ensuring a seamless integration of the TeleSitter solution into their healthcare ecosystem.
  • Metrics that matter: A key driver of success was CHS’s dedication to data-driven decision-making. They recognized the importance of collecting precise and relevant data to assess the impact of the TeleSitter solution accurately. This commitment to meaningful metrics allowed them to track progress, identify areas for improvement, and ultimately optimize patient care outcomes.
  • Leadership and oversight: Strong leadership and dedicated oversight were pivotal throughout the deployment process. Key leaders within CHS played a central role in driving the virtual patient monitoring initiative forward. Their unwavering commitment and guidance ensured that the program remained aligned with the organization’s broader goals and objectives.
  • Buy-in and Teamwork: CHS understood that achieving the desired results required a collaborative effort. Encouraging buy-in and utilization among staff was essential. Through effective communication, collaboration, and trust, the healthcare team worked together to maximize the benefits of the TeleSitter solution. It became a team effort, with everyone playing a crucial role in its success.
  • Strategic Patient Selection: CHS recognized the importance of strategic patient selection in applying the technology where it would be most effective. Careful consideration was given to identifying patients who would benefit most from the TeleSitter solution, further optimizing its impact on patient safety and care quality.

This comprehensive approach to the Phase 1 deployment set the stage for CHS’s journey implementing virtual patient monitoring, paving the way for positive clinical and operational results.

Outcomes: Reduction in falls and positive operational and financial impact

Following the completion of the pilot program, CHS embarked on a thorough analysis, which unveiled some significant outcomes.

  • A Meaningful decrease in falls: While CHS has worked effectively to reduce falls for years, implementation of the TeleSitter solution led to an even greater reduction in falls, including a 76% reduction in one hospital.
  • Zero patient falls with injuries in 2022: In 2022, CHS reported zero patient falls with injuries at facilities using virtual patient monitoring. This milestone reflects a profound commitment to patient safety.
  • Savings through injury avoidance: The solution translated into meaningful savings through the avoidance of costs related to patient injuries. In an environment where litigation looms, AvaSure can help mitigate potential liability claims when it comes to falls with injury.
  • Staffing dfficiencies of 16 to 1: The introduction of virtual sitters had a strong effect on staffing efficiency. With each virtual sitter capable of monitoring up to 16 patients simultaneously, CHS achieved staffing efficiencies of 16 to 1. This efficiency not only optimized staffing allocation but also enabled caregivers in CHS hospitals to work at the top of their licenses and provide more attentive care to a broader patient population.

These outcomes are a testament to CHS’s commitment to excellence, safety, and innovation. AvaSure delivered quantifiable operational benefit and helped reinforce the high standard of patient care and safety across CHS.

Quality and patient care lead to next steps

Today, CHS is poised to expand virtual patient monitoring services. With 87 devices currently in place, CHS plans to add 78 more across 12 more hospitals by the end of 2023.

CHS’s innovative approach helps ensure that more patients are kept safe, more healthcare professionals are supported, and the future of healthcare is brighter than ever.

Watch the webinar replay to hear firsthand from CHS about how they expanded their virtual patient monitoring program to enhance patient safety and optimize resource utilization.

Today, CHS is poised to expand virtual patient monitoring services. With 87 devices currently in place, CHS plans to add 78 more across 12 more hospitals by the end of 2023.

Decreasing falls and cutting costs in the LTACH setting

Gaylord Specialty Healthcare reveals inspiring results with the TeleSitter® solution

During AvaSure’s Digital Summit, Henry C. Hrdlicka, PhD, Director of Research, Milne Institute for Healthcare Innovation presented recent findings from Gaylord Specialty Healthcare’s TeleSitter® program. Watch here.

Inpatient falls are a universal safety concern in healthcare facilities, and their consequences can be devastating. This is especially a concern in the LTACH setting where individual risk is increased by anticipated longer lengths of stay & early and frequent encouragement of patient mobility. Up until now, 1:1 patient sitters have been the primary option for ensuring patient safety, however, staffing 1:1 sitters is a costly solution that can pull much needed hands from the bedside.

“Often the demand for 1:1 sitters outpaces staff availability. This accrues a massive financial burden on any institution. These factors have been further exacerbated due to ongoing national staffing shortages as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. This led us to the conclusion that an alternative needed to be found.”

Henry C. Hrdlicka, PhD, Director of Research, Milne Institute for Healthcare Innovation

Gaylord Specialty Healthcare, a rehabilitation-focused nonprofit healthcare system, embarked on a study to assess the impact of continuous virtual monitoring on inpatient falls and 1:1 sitter usage. In partnership with the Milne Institute for Healthcare Innovation, the study was carried out at Gaylord Hospital, a 137-bed Long-Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH), in Connecticut. The results of this research not only demonstrated a profound impact on patient safety but also revealed a promising opportunity for significant cost savings that can benefit healthcare facilities across the board.

Best practices for behavioral health monitoring: Virtual monitoring of patients at risk of suicide

The ins and outs of behavioral health monitoring, including regulatory standards, device selection, patient consent, and evaluation tools in utilizing virtual monitoring for patients at risk of suicide.

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Mental health conditions are on the rise in all age groups, affecting millions of Americans. Providing safe care for patients with behavioral health needs can be especially difficult when they are in emergency departments or acute-care settings that are not designed for their needs. Too often, hospitals resort to using costly 1:1 sitters to monitor patients with low-to-moderate suicide risk, and providing this sitter often means pulling a much-needed care staff member from the floor. In a world where hospitals are pressed to “do more with less” this can exacerbate already stretched staffing levels, which is why hospitals are looking for more scalable ways to keep their at-risk patients safe.
There is a perception that virtual sitting solutions aren’t allowed or suitable for these patients – in reality, while policies may have to be adjusted, most governing bodies allow for the virtual monitoring of patients that are assessed to be at low and moderate risk of suicide. Using a TeleSitter® program for these behavioral health monitoring can help reduce placing additional staffing constraints on your system while empowering patients on their journey to well-being.

Discover how 8 hospitals are using virtual sitting for their low-to-moderate suicide risk population

What are the regulatory standards for behavioral health monitoring?

With virtual sitting proven as a reliable solution for preventing falls, the question has naturally risen whether it is a suitable method for monitoring other vulnerable patients, including those at risk of suicide. Research led by David Kroll, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, showed that having a 1:1 sitter in the room of a suicidal risk patient is unproven in preventing self-harm. By contrast, use of the TeleSitter® solution on suicide risk patients resulted in zero adverse events.This study paved the way for the Joint Commission to deem the use of video monitoring for patients who are not at high risk for suicide up to the discretion of the organization in 2019.

Hospitals in 45 states across the U.S. are using AvaSure to virtually monitor over 75,000 patients for low-to-moderate risk of suicide.2

Do patients need to complete an informed consent form before they can be monitored?

Patient consent is not necessary for non-recorded video monitoring when it is solely employed for the purpose of ensuring patient safety, allowing healthcare providers to promptly implement essential monitoring systems that prioritize patient welfare, and fostering a safer and more secure healthcare environment. AvaSure’s platform does not record videos of patients.

What devices are best for behavioral health monitoring?

Selecting the right device is key to ensuring patient safety. You will need a robust device that offers 360-degree pan/tilt/zoom functionality for a comprehensive view of the surroundings. The device should feature infrared viewing to ensure visibility during both the day and night. High-resolution capability is essential to enable effective risk assessment, such as identifying potential hazards like trash bags, lines, or hidden items.  

Two-way communication capabilities are a must for verbal redirection, especially in situations where a patient may attempt to go into the bathroom alone. And finally, any alerts from the device must be loud so staff can quickly respond to potential safety concerns.

AvaSure offers robust device options suited to meet the needs of behavioral health monitoring, such as patients at risk of suicide, including ligature-free ceiling options.

What tools are used to evaluate patients for suicide risk?

It is up to the discretion of the care team to determine if a patient is appropriate for virtual monitoring based on the hospital’s protocols and clinical judgment.

It’s critical to have an adequate, evidence-based screening tool in place to conduct suicide risk assessments. The Columbia Suicide Severity Risk Scale (C-SSRS) is the most commonly used tool to assess suicide risk, and we highly recommend it. However, if you’re interested in exploring other options, The Suicide Prevention Resource Center provides a variety of resources for different risk stratification tools.

To keep everyone on the same page, it’s important to review and address any existing hospital policies around suicide risk assessments. Depending on the state and other regulatory factors, there may be additional compliance considerations to keep in mind.

At the end of the day, our goal is to work collaboratively with hospitals and providers to ensure that every patient receives the appropriate level of monitoring to keep them safe and healthy. AvaSure’s Customer Success team will advise and help your team develop policies and risk stratification that work best for your hospital and patient population.   

How do you overcome adoption challenges in behavioral health monitoring?

Change management is key. It’s common for staff to initially feel hesitant to use a virtual monitoring solution in place of a 1:1 sitter. First and foremost, ensure your staff understands the inclusion and exclusion criteria for patients and the screening process. You’ll want to keep everyone in the loop so they can feel confident about the new system. To make everyone feel even more comfortable, many facilities run pilots where a virtual monitor is used alongside an in-person sitter, who is just outside of the room. This safety net not only eases minds but also proves the efficacy of the system.

And don’t forget to celebrate the good catches! Sharing your successes with hospital leadership, nurse managers, and front-line staff is crucial to building goodwill around your new behavioral health monitoring program and gaining support. AvaSure provides a toolkit for our customers to easily share the good news with their hospital.

Are the staff monitoring for suicide risk required to be clinical or specially trained in any way differently from those monitoring for falls, elopement, etc.?

While there are no formal requirements for specialized training, we highly encourage you to invest in additional training to ensure your staff is fully prepared for their role. We recommend annual education and competency validation for Virtual Safety Attendants (VSAs) along with education on the risk of suicide to ensure that your team’s skills remain sharp while monitoring this vulnerable patient population.

But it doesn’t stop there – it’s equally important to train your bedside staff. By sharing stories and experiences that highlight the potential consequences when things go wrong, you can drive home the need for compliance and create a sense of urgency around proper training.

At AvaSure, we provide specialized training and competency evaluation resources that equip your VSAs with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively monitor patients at risk of suicide. From screening the room for potential safety risks to redirecting patients who may attempt to use the bathroom alone, our training ensures that your VSAs are well-prepared for any situation.

By investing in comprehensive training for your virtual safety attendants and bedside staff, you can enhance the overall safety and well-being of your patients. Together, we can ensure that everyone is equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to provide the highest level of care.

AvaSure’s Customer Success team is comprised of nurses and change management experts who are ready to guide you through best practices and provide clarity, policy templates, training, and resources about using behavioral health monitoring to keep patients safe. Schedule a discovery session with our team today.

Resource Center

Discover best practices from 8 hospitals using AvaSure for virtually monitoring patients at risk of suicide

Hear how St. Peters’ Health, Ascension Michigan, and HCA Methodist keep suicidal patients safe, virtually

Hear how HCA Kingwood and Froedtert use behavioral health monitoring

Learn about AvaSure’s ligature-free ceiling device

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

The Columbia Suicide Severity Risk Scale

Guidance from The Joint Commission on video monitoring of patients at high risk for suicide


  1. Kroll, D. S. et al., (2020). Virtual monitoring of suicide risk in the general hospital and emergency department. General hospital psychiatry, 63, 33-38.
  2. Insights from AvaSure’s national database on virtual monitoring (ORNA®)

4 Key insights from AvaSure’s first digital summit

Last week AvaSure hosted our 1st Annual Digital Summit: Start, Scale & Succeed with Virtual Sitting. During this one-day educational event, we featured over 10 current AvaSure customers to share their best practices & learnings from deploying virtual sitting programs.  Read on to hear how they were able to improve outcomes, optimize their labor force and protect staff all while helping to reduce costs.

There were so many exceptional discussions centered around today’s challenges – staffing being front and center. We know that hospitals across the U.S. are struggling to find enough nurses and support staff to run efficiently, so technology is helping to bridge the gap. With the AvaSure TeleSitter® Solution, hospitals are replacing the need for traditional 1:1 sitters by using Virtual Safety Attendants (VSAs) to monitor up to 12 patients remotely while reducing adverse events. Seem too good to be true? The results just may be.

How Valley Health Reduced the Use of 1:1 Sitters While Decreasing Falls

Valley Health System shared their story of starting a TeleSitter program four years ago that has gone on to help:

  • Reduce falls with injury by 50%
  • Save over $1 million dollars from combined fall reduction and sitter cost reduction
  • Achieve an 80% device utilization across the system

When discussing why they chose to work with AvaSure, they said, “We wanted to work with the experts to show us how this has worked at other organizations. Other organizations have made mistakes, had those mistakes corrected and so we are the beneficiaries of that. We wanted to focus on what we are good at. What we aren’t good at is setting up our own sitter program. But, what we are good at is knowing our needs, selecting the best partner out there and picking someone who could address our needs today & help us go beyond that in the future.” AvaSure has helped over 1,000 customers just like Valley Health start their programs and we have the clinical expertise to help make it as turnkey as possible for your staff.

Use Cases for TeleSitter solutions extend beyond just falls

Success of virtual sitting extends beyond just the acute care setting, Gaylord Specialty Healthcare gave a sneak preview of yet-to-be published results of how AvaSure helped optimize their LTACH program.

While virtual sitting programs may be best known for helping reduce falls, their use extends far beyond that one use case. We heard from Rachel Krajnovich, MSN, RN-BC, Director of Clinical Operations at HCA Kingwood on utilizing virtual monitoring for suicide risk & behavioral health patients.

  • Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S. across all age groups and the number of patients requiring suicide monitoring in acute care has increased 165% since 2019
  • 45% of hospitals that utilize AvaSure have monitored over 75,000 suicide risk patients across 45 states

This lesser-known use case can be extremely effective in helping to monitor low and moderate suicide risk patients, and is proven to be equally effective to in-person sitters for this population(1). These customers shared best practices regarding how they evaluate patients to be placed in the program, how they helped to get physicians and staff on board with utilizing virtual monitoring for this high-risk population and how it has helped them extend access of needed yet scarce mental health resources in ERs today.

Expanding to other use cases is just one example of scaling your program, you can also help to extend the reach of your program across various facilities in your system, helping you to achieve greater scale and efficiency. Providence Oregon Region shared how they built a ‘hub and spoke’ model – which involves having devices across multiple facilities with monitor staff at one, centralized hub watching patients across the system. This can help create a highly effective staff that is able to protect patients across the system and optimize your device utilization. Hear how they were able to achieve an average stat alarm response time of 12-15 seconds, well below the national average of 17 seconds.

Virtual Safety Attendants are Key to Program Success

 As always, one of our most popular sessions was best practices from Virtual Safety Attendants – sharing how they’ve built teams of heroes that work 24/7 to connect with patients, keep them safe, keep them calm & help assist them on their recovery journey. We heard from a VSA, Tom Dezell from Froedtert, who shared when thinking back on advice he’d give himself on his first day:

 “That I cannot let my fear of something happening to the patient interfere with my taking care of the patient. In other words, I can’t respond out of fear, I have to respond out of patient advocacy and confidence.”

His demonstrated commitment to his patients brought emotions to all who listened as he spoke so passionately and eloquently about the time he spends helping patients.

What Does the Future of Virtual Care Look Like?

We closed the day with Claire Zangerle, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAONL, FAAN, Nurse Executive with CMZ Strategies, LLC discussing the future of virtual care with AvaSure Chief Clinical Officer, Lisbeth Votruba, MSN, RN. In discussing her hopes for the future of nursing in this new virtual care environment she said,

“It’s our time as nurses to step up and make sure we’re listened to. We have to tell people how great it is to be a nurse and what it means to be a nurse. We’re in danger of people saying that the job is too hard to do. Everyone wants to work remote now, you can’t be hands on and work remote. You have to promote the value of human interaction, it’s so important. We know we don’t have enough staff and enough people to do human interaction whether it’s in a hospital, ASC, community health center, we know we don’t have enough people. We need to meet patients where they are, and we need to think of new ways to meet patients. We aren’t thinking about this because we don’t have enough staff, it’s also because that’s what patients want. We are looking at ways to make sure they get what they want.”

Nursing has always been and will always be an essential and noble profession that relies on hands-on patient care, clinical expertise & empathizers who care deeply about the lives of their patients. AvaSure believes that nurses should always be central to care, which is why we featured nurses throughout our summit – as moderators, hosts & panelists to demonstrate the vital role they play in the shifting care model moving forward.

We look forward to sharing more insights, recaps and full session replays of Digital Summit for those who have missed it, and we look forward to seeing you IN-PERSON at our upcoming Annual Symposium October 25th – 26th in Grand Rapids, Michigan – learn more here.

1 Kroll, D. S. et al., (2020). Virtual monitoring of suicide risk in the general hospital and emergency department. General hospital psychiatry, 63, 33–38.

Struggling with maintaining your Virtual Safety Team? You’re not alone.

Struggling with maintaining your Virtual Safety Team? You’re not alone.

Here are best practices for recruiting and retaining virtual safety attendants for your TeleSitter® program.

AvaSure monitor staff at computers

It’s no secret that healthcare is impacted by staffing shortages and turnover. During the past year, hospital turnover increased by 6.4% and currently stands at 25.9%. Recruiting and retaining virtual safety attendants is more challenging than ever. The “secret sauce” to maintaining a successful video monitoring program is in the details. We recently sat down with the experts to discuss how they created the sought-after role of a virtual safety attendant. Watch the webinar and see below for best practices for hiring, onboarding, and maintaining a program that keeps your virtual safety attendants engaged. Thought leaders:

  • Lori Colineri, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Officer, Hackensack Meridian Health
  • Tiffany Villamin, MSN, RN, CRRN, Nurse Manager, Patient Flow Support Services, VA North Texas Health Care System
  • Lisbeth Votruba, MSN, RN, Chief Clinical Officer, AvaSure

“When you hire right, you will have staff committed to the mission and to keep the program sustainable”

– Tiffany Villamin, MSN, RN, CRRN, Nurse Manager, Patient Flow Support Services, VA North Texas Health Care System

Finding the Right Talent is Critical to Success

It all starts with hiring. Virtual safety attendants are the lynchpin of a successful video monitoring program. A dedicated monitor staff member is one who makes patient care their top priority.

Proven tips:

  • Use AvaSure’s job roles & responsibilities and job description templates to kickstart your search
  • Look for candidates with at least one year of healthcare experience in rehab, acute care, and psychology settings
  • Beyond their resume, look for candidates who embody accountability, empathy, courage, and reliability.
  • If there is a labor shortage, partner with a staffing organization, like Equum Medical, to augment your team.
  • Work with local schools to create a pipeline program for nursing or allied health students.

BEST PRACTICE: Hackensack Meridian Health developed an “earn while you learn” program that helps learners get familiar with monitoring systems, work in the hospital setting, and communicate with patients. This program creates a pipeline of talent ready to take on new roles in the organization as they graduate. As an added bonus, those who went through the program are advocates for your virtual monitoring program throughout their careers.

Onboarding and Education Sets the Right Tone 

Your onboarding strategy is the first impression of your monitoring program and sets the tone for the attendant’s experience. A robust training program helps to build staff confidence, and better engagement with their patients. 

Proven tips: 

  • Use AvaSure’s education modules in your regular Learning Management System (LMS) for virtual safety attendants, nursing staff, nursing leaders, and non-nursing leaders. 
  • Hold an in-person or virtual open house to introduce your bedside nurses and virtual safety attendants. 
  • Have monitor staff spend the first 2-3 months monitoring full-time to get comfortable with the skillset required for TeleSitter® and then train them at the bedside, expanding their skillset. 
  • Use AvaSure’s competencies and skills checklists to prepare virtual safety attendants to confidently fly solo. 

BEST PRACTICE: Hackensack Meridian Health recognized that everyone plays a role in their monitoring program. They use AvaSure’s learning modules in their LMS for nursing and non-nursing roles so that when a STAT alarm goes off, everyone knows what to do without question. Those investments are worthwhile. Hackensack Meridian Health outperforms industry benchmarks on verbal interventions and STAT alarm response time.   

Recognition and Career Planning Keeps Staff Engaged

The best way to keep your video monitoring program strong is to retain your core talent. The program hinges on the reputation of your virtual safety attendants as trusted partners to the nursing staff.  

Proven tips: 

  • Ensure managers consistently check in on their team’s well-being, guaranteeing they are getting the breaks and support needed to remain focused on patient safety. 
  • Create a career path for roles like medical assistant, clerk, registered nurse, and phlebotomist to encourage positive turnover. 
  • Build a “great catch” program to recognize virtual safety attendants’ impact on patient safety as critical members of the team. 

BEST PRACTICE: VA North Texas Healthcare System designated a nurse responsible for administrative duties that ease the burden on the virtual safety attendant staff. This person is responsible for clinical coordination, data review, staff relief, education, and collaboration with the nursing staff. This role improved the partnership with nursing and raised the number of patients enrolled in the program. 

successful virtual monitoring program improves patient safety while giving back to bedside nurses, and the strength of your program relies on the dedicated people behind the screen. More than technology, AvaSure is committed to the success of your TeleSitter® or TeleNurse™ programs. Pulling from our experience building virtual care strategies in over 1,000 hospitals and health systems, AvaSure’s clinical team partners with hospitals to ensure that their virtual safety attendants are confident, engaged, and seen as valued members of the team.

A Business Case for Centralizing TeleSitting: Clinical and Financial ROI at Ochsner Health

Many leading healthcare organizations are turning to centralized audiovisual monitoring models as an alternative to 1:1 sitting for high-risk patients

Because one-to-one sitter staffing isn’t effective for high-risk patients, many leading healthcare organizations are turning to centralized audiovisual monitoring models as an alternative.

During a virtual featured session sponsored by AvaSure as part of Becker’s Hospital Review 11th Annual Meeting in May, two telemedicine leaders from New Orleans-based Ochsner Health joined AvaSure’s Chief Clinical Innovation Officer to discuss how a TeleSitter program in a hub and spoke format can deliver clinical and financial benefits to health systems.


  • Jennifer Humbert, MSN, RN, AVP of Telemedicine at Ochsner Health
  • Rachelle Longo, BSN, RN, AVP of Telemedicine Strategic Partnership Solutions at Ochsner Health
  • Lisbeth Votruba, MSN, RN, Chief Clinical Innovation Officer at AvaSure

Read the full article to learn more.

In Today’s Impatient Care Environment, the Nurse Call Light Falls Short

U.S. nurses have relied on the same technology, the nurse call light, to care for a growing, aging, more demanding patient population

It’s time for a more interactive patient room

The truth is that the call light technology used in thousands of patient rooms is rarely updated and increasingly deficient in detecting and alerting staff to life-threatening scenarios.

Amazing advancements like virtual visits, patient portals and remote patient monitoring for disease management are improving communication and quality of care. But how about technology that optimizes inpatient and caregiver safety against violence and “sentinel”[1] or patient safety events?

It’s time to overhaul the call light.

As AI, virtual care, and telehealth take center stage in healthcare delivery, there is an opportunity to embrace a more interactive patient room where:

  • Patients are protected from self-harm and adverse events in real time
  • Clinicians and caregivers can safely and effectively interact with patients before events escalate
  • The spread of viruses like COVID-19 is mitigated
  • The care team is reserved for the highest, most effective level of bedside care

Call lights, unsecured mobile devices (think baby monitors), and the questionable practice of using 1:1 sitters placed with patients presenting infectious disease or violent tendencies are neither safe nor sustainable ways to improve patient safety, experience or outcomes. As healthcare workers sometimes feel compelled to adapt unsecure workarounds to monitor potentially dangerous scenarios, it is imperative that health systems consider secure technology for optimal care and safety for every patient and every caregiver.

Thankfully, this is not a futurist mindset. A solution – remote inpatient video monitoring – does exist in most major hospitals around the country. Has it made its way into your holistic telehealth strategy?

What exactly is remote safety monitoring?

Remote safety monitoring technology provides a continuous live feed from a patient’s room, allowing hospital staff to monitor a patient while reducing exposure risks to infectious disease or violence. It improves communication, provides peace of mind and reduces stress among caregivers, patients and families. It allows healthcare workers to keep an eye on patients who are at risk or in isolation and enables clinicians to communicate with their patients any time, remotely, from a monitor at the nursing station.

Remote video monitoring, in conjunction with other safety measures, can:

  • Help monitoring staff prevent falls, self-harm attempts, and manage other adverse events, such as elopement or wandering and interfering with medical devices.
  • Alert nursing staff to potentially abusive visitors
  • Help staff immediately identify clinical deterioration and notify nurses
  • Protect bedside staff from potentially violent patients
  • Enable remote monitoring staff to calm the most vulnerable patients

In addition, a paper[2] published in the Journal of Nursing Measurement shared a more personal benefit of the technology, in which a dying, nonverbal patient began humming along with a TeleSitter monitor who initiated humming the song the patient’s daughter hummed every time she visited, pre-COVID. This touching gesture created calm and familiarity in this patient’s final days.

A Holistic Telehealth Strategy Can Address Staffing Shortages, Hospital Falls, and Isolation

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing shortages, patient falls and patient violence were trending concerns in healthcare. Healthcare workers are four times more likely to suffer violence than workers in other industries.[3] These issues have been exacerbated in healthcare environments where staffing is limited, infectious disease management is critical, and at-risk inpatients continue to be isolated due to tighter visitor restrictions. AvaSure’s TeleSitter® Solution has been deployed in 75 percent of major health systems in 48 states. The secured audiovisual monitoring technology allows one tech to monitor up to 16 patients at a time. In an over-burdened health system – the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding – we must consider telehealth technology that protects the patient and the caregiver in today’s precarious healthcare environment. And technology that allows a nurse to serve at their highest calling can only elevate the nursing profession, improve staff engagement and, ultimately, optimize each patient’s recovery.

As chief clinical innovation officer of AvaSure, Lisbeth Votruba, MSN, RN, demonstrates her vision for innovative inpatient telehealth care delivery through her compassionate leadership, activism for the nursing profession, and advocacy for the dignity, safety and quality of care for patients, families and healthcare professionals. As a third-generation nurse, she understands how important it is to keep patients and frontline medical workers safe in clinical environments.

[1] Joint Commission /20200101 [2] Remote Visual Monitoring During a Pandemic by Keeling, Eva, MSN, RN, NE-BC | Cudjoe, Joycelyn, PhD, RN | Hawksworth, Lisa, MSN, RN, NEA-BC | Drake, Jennifer, DNP, RN, NPD-BC, ONC |Davis, Theresa, PhD, RN, NE-BC, FAAN Journal of Nursing Measurement, Vol 28 Issue 3, DOI: 10.1891/JNM-D-20-00100 [3]

AvaSure Virtual Classroom Series: Virtual Nursing 101

Are you thinking about implementing virtual nursing but are not sure where to start? Or have you tried out things that don’t quite meet your objectives?

AvaSure virtual classroom

Are you thinking about implementing virtual nursing but are not sure where to start? Or have you tried out things that don’t quite meet your objectives? You aren’t alone!

Join AvaSure Chief Clinical Officer, Lisbeth Votruba, MSN, RN as she will help you navigate your program and how to get started in a 6-part educational series. Lisbeth is a pioneering nurse executive committed to continuous improvement of healthcare and the diffusion of new technologies to drive patient and staff safety. She was selected as a participant at the recent Medical Surgical Nursing Certification Board task force meeting to develop a certification for the Virtual Nursing position and for nearly 15 years, she has worked extensively with our 1,000+ hospitals in standing up their virtual care platforms to help optimize labor forces, improve the quality of patient care and drive staff satisfaction & retention.

This free, six-part series will take place the last Thursday of each month featuring Lisbeth along with special guests and experts. Lisbeth will cover key topics, lessons learned from ongoing programs and audience questions.

Session 1: The Role of the Virtual Nurse | Watch On-Demand

Featuring Terri Hinkley, EdD, MBA, BScN, RN, CAE, CEO of Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses

Thursday, March 23rd at 12 p.m.

  1. Learn about the role of the virtual nurse and what was involved in the creation of the MSNCB Role Certification from two task force members.
  2. Understanding competencies to look for when hiring a virtual nurse and how to recruit for this role without taking away from bedside staff or further exacerbating staffing challenges.

Session 2: Introducing the Clinical Resource TeleNurse™ Model – What is it and How Can it Help? Watch On-Demand

Featuring Wayde Batt, MSN, NEA-BC, BC-RN, Patient Services Manager, NSICU / Virtual Nursing, UNC Health Rex and Laura Gartner DNP, MS, RN, RN-BC, NEA-BC , Director Clinical Informatics, Jefferson Health

Thursday, April 27th at 12 p.m.

  1. This model of virtual nursing focuses on offloading documentation and administrative burden from bedside teams, helping to optimize your labor force and deliver elevated patient care
  2. In this session, learn what’s driving the need for this nursing model, areas of focus and hear best practices from those who’ve already piloted
  3. Discover early outcomes from those already using this model to help reduce discharge time, increase patient & staff satisfaction and optimize outcomes

Session 3: Building a Virtual Nursing Business Case Watch On-Demand

Thursday, May 25th at 12 p.m.

  1. Learn how to partner clinical and IT resources to build a business case for virtual nursing
  2. Identify key metrics to use as goals & benchmarks for your program
  3. Get best practices for setting up an initial pilot & how to sell your leadership team on starting a program

Session 4: Introducing The Expert Oversight Telenurse™ Model: What Is It & How Can It Help? Watch On-Demand

Thursday, June 22nd at 12 p.m.

  1. This model of virtual nursing focuses on retaining an experienced nurse to oversee a cohort of complex patients, monitoring for early signs of adverse patient events, mentoring novice nurses and providing support to bedside care teams
  2. In this session, learn what’s driving the need for this nursing model, areas of focus and hear best practices from those who’ve already piloted
  3. Discover early outcomes from those already using this model to help detect adverse events sooner and drive satisfaction in nursing staff, especially novice team members

Session 5: Selecting The Right Technology Partner For Virtual Nursing Watch On-Demand

Thursday, July 27th at 12 p.m.

  1. Once you’ve sold your teams on virtual nursing, picking the right partner is essential
  2. Learn criteria to use to select the right partner for program success & what requirements should guide your decision
  3. Understand how technology will impact your program and details around emerging trends towards AI/Machine Learning, Camera-in-every-room and more

Session 6: Starting & Scaling Your Virtual Nurse Program Watch On-Demand

Thursday, August 24th at 12 p.m.

  1. Once you’ve decided to kickoff, learn best practices around developing your initial pilot and kickstarting your program
  2. Learn how to scale and grow your program over time

Join us to discover everything you need to know to start your virtual nursing program, no matter what stage you’re at. Want to kickstart your learning? Read our blog on a roadmap to developing a virtual nursing program before the first session. This will be an interactive session, so we encourage you to join us on-camera and with questions based on your unique facilities challenges!

Want to learn more about our virtual nursing solutions? Explore here.