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Next Generation Interactive Patient Engagement Systems Help Hospitals Address Rising Nurse Shortages

May 3, 2018

AI-driven Virtual Health Coaches Streamline Clinical Workflows

Raleigh, N.C. – A new generation of interactive patient engagement systems with virtual health coaches driven by artificial intelligence can help hospitals address a growing shortage of nurses. These technology investments enable nurses to spend more time with patients and elevate their role to improve care management and coordination.

iCare Navigator was recently launched by TeleHealth Services as the industry’s first enterprise-scale interactive patient engagement platform using adaptive and empathetic avatars as virtual personal health coaches. iCare Navigator integrates with electronic medical records (EMRs) and is designed to make clinical workflows more efficient.

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The United States is projected to experience a shortage of registered nurses that is expected to intensify as Baby Boomers age and the demand for healthcare services increases given the national move toward healthcare reform, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The rising number of patients with chronic diseases, an aging nursing workforce and a limited capacity for growth at nursing schools is worrying healthcare providers.

With iCare Navigator, clinicians prescribe health videos that the patient controls from the bedside via a tablet or television. Patients are guided in their education with built-in motivators for patients to complete certain learning and care plan tasks. The system generates activity reports for staff to review, and measure learning and patient comprehension to assess when additional education is required. Condition-specific clinical education is automatically documented in the patient’s EMR and can be accessed post-discharge to further reinforce adherence to medications and follow-up care plans.

“Improved clinical and workflow management allows nurses to practice at the top of their license,” said Keith Donahue, vice president of corporate marketing and growth for TeleHealth Services. “iCare Navigator becomes part of a workflow that is educating patients and providing information and hospital services to the patient so that nurses can focus more on their clinical rounds.”

Nurses have numerous responsibilities including completing shift reports, handoffs, admissions and transfers, and managing clinical records – all taking time away from the bedside. “Patient teaching may take up less than 10 percent of a nurses’ time,” said Susie Sonnier, MS, RN. She is a clinical outcomes manager for TeleHealth Services and has served as a registered nurse for more than three decades with experience in hospital, outpatient and community settings as a nurse educator. “Lack of time is the number one constraint of delivering essential patient and caregiver education,” she said.

By streamlining the education process and identifying when teach-back strategies are needed to reinforce education, nurses can devote more time to patient-centered care. iCare Navigator integrates microlearning education content delivered by empathetic virtual health coaches to support the clinical team by guiding patients through personalized health education plans, relaxation therapy and support services. Microlearning is an emerging strategy for teaching and learning, providing educational content in small, very specific bursts of information. Instead of 10-plus minute videos in many conventional patient engagement and education systems, microlearning content is broken into 30-second to two minute segments.

With iCare Navigator, patients are rewarded for progress in their care plan with built-in gamification strategies. Family members and friends can be engaged to support patients by sending motivational messages through the iCare Navigator Personal Care Network. The virtual health coaches also help direct and expedite in-room patient requests, thereby relieving nurses from  typical non-clinical nurse calls while improving overall patient satisfaction.

“Combining modern microlearning strategies with artificial intelligence and empathetic virtual personal health coaches to dynamically determine when and how to best deliver information makes learning more of a conversation,” said Richard Bootes, vice president of product development at TeleHealth Services. “Our next-generation iCare Navigator interactive patient engagement system helps nurses deliver and reinforce education in ways that increase retention and foster long-term positive health behavioral change.”