The US is expected to face critical shortages of RNs (Registered Nurses) due to surge in healthcare needs and growth of Baby Boomers age. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there’s a need for 1.1 million new registered nurses for replacement of retirees and expansion of the healthcare sector.
Virtual nursing is one way to counter shortage of nurses in the healthcare industry. Virtual nurses are instrumental to the healthcare, as they can flex in several ways and provide support in multiple tasks.
With upcoming trends in virtual nurse app such as telemedicine, artificial intelligence (AI), and IoMT (Internet of Medical Things), virtual nurses can monitor patients and offer care easily.
4 Major Reasons for Virtual Nurse App Development
1. Mitigating Burnouts of Nurses
Nurse disengagement and fatigue can cause serious issues for healthcare facilities. Hospitals and clinics can lose good staff due to poor work-life balance. Nurse burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion due to ongoing work stress, thus impacting patient satisfaction, care, and medical outcomes.
Virtual nurse application is a solution to mitigate nurse burnouts. Automated bots can monitor symptoms and aid triage patients. Avatars keep patients connected to healthcare providers during visits, thus preventing readmissions and a holistic care.
A virtual nurse app reduces burden through ways such as automated data entry and voice recognition. Furthermore, by incorporating support and wellness programs, healthcare facilities can help nurses cope with stressful situations better.
2. Providing Care to the Elderly
A virtual nurse provides care to fragile senior citizens who are vulnerable to infectious diseases such as the Covid-19. By using a virtual nurse application or integrating a virtual nurse feature in telemedicine/telehealth platform, the elderly population can easily acquire assistance in times of medical emergencies.
Senior citizens suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), can connect with virtual nurses for care and support, from the comfort of their homes.
The elderly who live independently will benefit immensely with a virtual nurse app, especially those residing in the rural areas, where finding care is inconvenient. They are at ease due to smooth interactions with nurses, care, and assurance needed for their health conditions.
3. Data Collection for Future Usage
Data collection enables nurses and physicians to make informed decisions about services and treatment. Medical data helps to identify warning signs of a serious disease before its onset. Treating a disease at an early stage costs less as compared to treating it once it has progressed. Big data plays a crucial role in ameliorating patient outcomes.
Amassing big data for medical usage is time consuming and expensive, however with innovative technologies data is collected electronically and converted in readable format.
Nurses and physicians can generate data-driven approach to diagnose and medicate patients. In a virtual nurse app, medical data or ePHI (Protected Health Information) can be collected and stored for future medical usage.
4. Chronic Disease Care
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), two-thirds of the Medicare beneficiaries account for 93 percent of the total Medicare expenditure and are susceptible to multiple chronic diseases.
Chronic diseases complicate medical treatment, and those diagnosed with multiple chronic conditions struggle with several negative social determinants of health.
Introduction of virtual nurse apps, telemedicine, and other virtual care giving applications, is creating a tectonic shift in the manner care is provided to chronic patients.
Key Features of Virtual Nurse Application
1. Virtual Nurse Avatars
Virtual nurse avatars are computer generated tools that are utilized to provide care to patients. These are animated figures on a screen that replicate behaviors of a nurse such as assessing health status of a patient or providing patients’ medical information.
Additional duties represented by virtual nurse avatars include –
a. Collecting patient information
b. Coaching patients as they aim for significant lifestyle changes
c. Issuing discharge instructions
Research and development in virtual nurse avatars invites speculation on the future role of nursing profession. Human nurses maybe replaced by virtual avatars and robots as technology evolves, however these avatars will be a means to bridge the gap between healthcare demand and supply.
2. Profile and Dashboard
Users can create a profile and use it log in to their profile. Credentials such as phone number, name, or email can be used. Additionally, a emergency button can be created to direct patients to the ER practitioners incase of urgent matters (patients can skip log in during emergencies).
Through dashboards, users – both nurses/physicians and patients can gain access to medical records for analysis, get past appointments, and lab reports under one roof.
For several patients visiting a specialist or hospital is challenging. This takes considerable amount of time, and tends to be difficult for people who lack mode of transportation; or those who feel that their health concerns aren’t worth the hassle. This is where chatbots come in the picture!
Chatbot technology provides solution to these problems, by decreasing costs related to transportation and saves time as well. Facilities with shortage on nurses can use chatbots to reduce strain on limited human resources. Nurses can easily dedicate their time and energy in attending to patients that need their full expertise.
Furthermore, AI integrated healthcare chatbots help patients to navigate healthcare services. For nurses they reduce administrative burden by sending out reminders, correcting medical forms, and assisting in refilling prescriptions. Developers can consider adding an AI chatbot during virtual nurse app development for enhanced patient satisfaction and experience.
4. Educational Content
This contains medical or healthcare information for patients and healthcare staff. Educational content can be a combination of (not limited to) videos, blogs, and images about varied diseases, treatments, and diagnosis procedure.
Consider creating content by analyzing through points such as –
a. What patients would like to know about?
b. What are patients’ concerns or fear about medical conditions?
c. Organize content in a layman’s language.
5. Symptom Checker
Symptom checker is one of the crucial features of a virtual nurse application. This feature examines medical data collected from patients, and sends it to healthcare professionals for diagnosis and treatment. Symptom checkers alert patients of life threatening diseases, and conversely reassure them if they don’t require medical assistance.
Symptom checkers reduces visits to hospitals and readmissions, thereby decreasing nurse/physician burnouts and unnecessary wastage of healthcare resources.
6. Alerts and Reminders
Automated alerts and reminders help patients adhere to their health regime and reduce readmission rates. This potentially impacts clinic expenses, no shows, and cancellation rates. Reminders also indicate when a prescribed medication is to be taken.
Alerts can be sent to the billing staff or medical office for patients that require special attention, these messages appear at the top of all the records.
7. Appointment Scheduling
Online appointment scheduling allows patients to book slots as per their convenience. They can book virtual care slots through chats, audio, or video calling; the option of connecting with virtual nurse avatars is open as well.
Ensure to have a stable network connection to avoid unexpected interruptions while booking appointments.
8. Online Consultation
With a virtual nurse application, patients can seek online consultation and care services whenever needed. Patients can consult on medication, post discharge care, and seek reassurance through a virtual nurse app.
For Nurses and Doctors
1. Symptom Analysis
Patients record their medical data through symptom checker, which is then analyzed by nurses, and passed on to doctors for further treatment. Patients share how they’re feeling, and get a feedback on potential causes, based on an analysis. Nurses and doctors get access to useful medical data before meeting a patient through symptom analysis, thus helping with medical decisions.
Scrutinizing data before meeting, saves time and improves patient safety (especially those with complex medical history). Nurses contribute by giving feedback to patients and use the teach back technique to explain care/medication process.
2. Patient Management
Nurses can view all patients on the virtual nurse application and manage them by attending to their requirements. The focus of patient management is to foster strong connections with patients, instead of just treating their illnesses. This lets patients know that nurses and physicians see them as individuals with feelings and thoughts, and not just a bunch of sick people.
Patient management feature allows nurses to ameliorate overall patient health, by attending to their needs remotely. Additionally, reminders and push notifications are sent by nurses for routine check-ins or if any bills are pending.
3. Online Consultation
For nurses who wish to work remotely, online consultation is a feasible platform. Remote care averts the risk of contradicting infectious diseases such as the Covid-19. Further, clinics and hospitals save money on resources spent on in-person visits and space as well.
Online consultation is an efficient way for nurses to manage patients as there’s no prolonged hospital stays, wait times, and long appointment leads. However, patients may not benefit from online consultation if they are in need of face-to-face care.
4. Sign-in and Dashboard
This feature works the same way for nurses and doctors as that of patients. Only, they get an access to medical records for analysis and treatment processes.
5. Appointment Management
Appointment management feature helps nurses/admin staff to keep a track of everything related to patients, online and offline consultations with both doctors and nurses. Further, automation in appointment management avoids double-booking, and other human errors.
Appointment management allows to oversee open slots and cancellations easily. This feature enables nurses to use every hour efficiently on a working day.
Additionally, appointment management prevents confusion as it gives a bird eye view of past, present, and future appointments of every patient. Patients can gain access to appointment scheduling 24/7, thus decreasing waiting lines and chances of cancellations.
6. Report Analysis
Report sent by patients and laboratory can be managed through this feature. Report analysis harnesses the power to spot fatal medical problems prior to their occurrence. Predictive analysis improves mortality rates and quality of care.
Report analysis helps in gaining insights on a potential outbreak, thereby ensuring that corrective measures are taken to curb the situation.
1. Push Notifications
Admins can send push notifications for delivering test results to patients at real-time. Instead of waiting for hours for results, virtual nurse apps can make it possible to receive test results from the comfort of home.
Ensure to include HIPAA complaint guidelines during virtual nurse app development as it contains sensitive patient information. Additionally, it covers medication reminders and schedules, such as fitness checks.
2. Payment Management
Both Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) and HIPAA require healthcare providers to maintain appropriate safeguards for protecting credit card data. Failing to do so involves significant penalties such as legal liabilities, large fines, and suspension from accepting credit cards.
Consider encryption of all payment data for secure billing process. This assures patients that their financial data is safe. Patients are likely to neglect care facilities incase of financial data breach.
3. Marketing Management
Reasons someone might decide to switch their healthcare providers are relocation, limited access to care, dissatisfaction, or high service costs. Marketing management strategy helps to keep a healthcare brand at the forefront of a patients’ mind.
Marketing management feature allows admins to drive growth and engage people, online and offline. These are focused on return of investment and key market performance indicators.
4. Conversational Chatbots
Conversational chatbots are developed in a way to receive an automated reply with no human intervention.
AI integrated conversational chatbots reply to patient queries automatically, thus reducing administrative burden (these chatbots are developed to serve the admin staff, while there are those who aid patients, like the one discussed above).
Step-by-Step Guide to Virtual Nurse App Development
1. Finding an Expert Software Development Company
Finding an expert software development company can be time consuming, however with the use of social media, blogs, and advertisements, this process is simplified.
Before shortlisting a company, consider evaluating past work and experiences to get an idea of their domain and technical knowledge. For instance, Arkenea – a top rated healthcare software development company specializes in healthcare domain, and provide a range of services such as software development, telemedicine, app and website development.
Furthermore, upon shortlisting a company, ensure to have a communication and project plan in place. This helps to get the project going on the right foot, and builds productivity along the way.
2. Setting Up Compliance
HIPAA compliance ensures security and privacy of crucial ePHI. Compliance makes it easier to maintain and store data from healthcare facilities and patients. With HIPAA in place, covered entities cannot forward information without patients’ consent.
Additionally, billing professionals and prescription vendors aren’t authorized to transfer patient data without consent.
To make virtual nurse app HIPAA complaint, consider incorporating the following aspects –
a. Implement technical, administrative, and physical safeguards.
b. Limit sharing ePHI to a minimum and establish authorized access to medical records.
c. Get Business Associate Agreements in place.
d. Implement procedures to limit number of individuals and covered entities who can access patient data. Incorporate training programs to educate staff about HIPAA compliance.
3. Scrutinizing Requirements
In this stage application developers research on organizations’ requirements for compatibility, data processing, user needs, and legacy systems
The development team estimates a timeline and project cost based on varied aspects such as features, integrations, designs, and workforce.
4. Features and Functionalities
Plausible features that can be included during virtual nurse app development are listed above. Apart from this, key functionalities include simple navigation system as this allows users to quickly tap on the required item.
Personalization is another functionality to be considered for enhancing user experience; this can be achieved by incorporating a series of questions for users before the app onboarding process.
Further, a feedback mechanism provides insights on application and establishes a clear focus on ways to improve application.
5. Designing and Prototyping
App designing combines UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface). UI focuses on the overall style of the app – fonts, colors, and overall look and feel; while UX aims at usability and functionality of an application.
While designing consider a thorough market research to gain an understanding of the users and the problems developers are trying to solve. Further, designs are not only about aesthetics, but also to match user experience. Ensure to encompass CTA buttons, easy navigation tool, menu bar, and contact information while designing an application.
Prototyping helps visualize a design in work. This gives a visual representation of the final product and how it will operate once launched. Prototypes save time and money in redesigning the entire application from scratch, corrections are made as and when needed before the final product.
6. Testing, Deployment, and Maintenance
Never skip the testing phase as it will help to analyze reliability and functionality of the final product. Once the testing phase is completed, application is ready to be launched in the market.
Maintenance of app is the final step in the process, as it involves integrating additional features as per user demands. Additionally, developers need to update apps constantly for its seamless usage.
Challenges Associated with Virtual Nurse App Development
Virtual nurse app development involves long product development time. For a startup company, consider whether its worth the wait or not. It’s a long process involving integration of several essential features, and technologies such as AI or IoMT.
Building the right application model is essential to upsurge user rate.
Further, understanding legal conditions of a virtual nurse application and market conditions is another challenge for developers. However, with deep research successful applications can be designed and implemented.
Looking For an Experienced Healthcare Developer?
Arkenea is a healthcare software development company with over 10 years of experience in the field. Our team of experts provide customized and world class healthcare application solutions that enhance user experience.
Connect with us to get a healthcare software that’s just right for your organization.