Catholic Health Initiatives Expands Virtual Care Program To Provide More Effective Bedside Care to Patients

Federal grant will support expansion of innovative new care model


Catholic Heath Initiatives (CHI), the nation’s second-largest nonprofit health system, is expanding its Virtually Integrated Care Team model -- an innovative new approach designed to increase individualized patient care and improve quality and outcomes by pairing video technology with a fundamental redesign of nursing roles in the acute care setting.

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.

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.

The Virtually Integrated Care Team program was first tested in September 2013 at CHI Health St. Elizabeth in Lincoln, Nebraska, and is now expanding across the hospital’s adult inpatient unit.

CHI has received a three-year, $1.45 million grant from the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to expand the new patent-pending care delivery model.

“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 CHI St. Elizabeth. In 2016, the program will be introduced at CHI Health Good Samaritan in Kearney, Nebraska. 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.”

About Catholic Health Initiatives:

Catholic Health Initiatives, a nonprofit, faith-based health system formed in 1996 through the consolidation of four Catholic health systems, expresses its mission each day by creating and nurturing healthy communities in the hundreds of sites across the nation where it provides care. One of the nation’s largest health systems, Englewood, Colorado-based CHI operates in 19 states and comprises 105 hospitals, including four academic health centers and major teaching hospitals and 30 critical-access facilities; community health-services organizations; accredited nursing colleges; home-health agencies; and other facilities that span the inpatient and outpatient continuum of care. In fiscal year 2014, CHI provided $910 million in charity care and community benefit -- a nearly 20% increase over the previous year -- for programs and services for the poor, free clinics, education and research. Charity care and community benefit totaled more than $1.7 billion with the inclusion of the unpaid costs of Medicare. The health system, which generated revenues of almost $13.9 billion in fiscal year 2014, has total assets of $21.8 billion. Learn more at

About CHI Institute For Research And Innovation (CIRI):

Founded in 2007, the CHI Institute for Research and Innovation (CIRI) connects Catholic Health Initiatives’ hospitals, physicians and patients to the latest medical advances through collaborators and sponsors across the health care research community. The formation of CIRI signaled a clear commitment to the health care industry that CHI is a vested participant in the processes of research and innovation designed to have a significant impact on health outcomes. Learn more at

About The HRSA Grant:

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UD7HP28524, grant title Virtually Integrated Care Team (VICT), total award amount $1,454,288 for years 1-3. Sixty percent of this program is financed by nongovernmental sources. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

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.

- Kathleen Sanford, CHI’s senior vice president and chief nursing officer
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Michael Romano
National Director, Media Relations
p: 303-383-2720