College of Nursing partners with CareSpan USA Inc.

State’s College of Nursing has announced an agreement to use the CareSpan USA Inc.’s Virtual Clinic to train its students starting this spring semester. This agreement is part of South Dakota State’s plan to develop, implement and evaluate a telehealth curriculum that focuses on rural health for advanced practice nurses. Initially aimed toward graduate students pursuing the family nurse practitioner specialty, South Dakota State will use the technology in its nursing classrooms in Brookings, Rapid City and Sioux Falls.

“This agreement allows us to provide our students the opportunity to develop competence in the use of innovative health-care delivery modalities of relevance to rural health,” said Nancy Fahrenwald ’83, the college’s dean. “A collaborative system like CareSpan is not only ideal for patient care because it is rich with medical information but also allows providers and students to realistically train within a complete interactive online exam rather than just within a rudimentary video conference. CareSpan is the only telemedicine system we have seen to date with these advanced clinical features.”

Fahrenwald said using the Virtual Clinic is part of the college’s strategic plan to not only prepare upcoming graduates for the ever-changing field of health care but also transform nursing and health professions education with innovative teaching environments and the latest in technological advances. Those goals can be achieved with agreements such as the one with CareSpan.

CareSpan’s Virtual Clinic integrates a patient-provider video telepresence and captures vital signs, medical images and heart/breathing sounds. It also allows e-prescribing, real-time specialist consultations, informed consents and electronic health records.

“The initiative at SDSU with CareSpan is part of a critically important trend that enables nurses to meet the health needs of underserved communities regardless of time or distance,” said JoEllen Koerner, senior vice president of clinical quality at CareSpan and former president of the American Organization of Nurse Executives. “Overcoming these barriers with a complete online care delivery platform will help nurses achieve their full potential as professionals.” Koerner received a master’s degree from South Dakota State in 1982.

The CareSpan technology will allow simulated patient exams to occur between nursing students, patient “presenters” and instructors. Complete video screen captures of these simulated exams will allow students and instructors to review and discuss the care delivery methods and approaches using digital health technologies.

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