CARY – The virtual nurse is here.

TeleHealth Services – one of the nation’s leading providers of audio/visual solutions (AV) headquartered right here in the Triangle – has teamed up with Nebraska-based Banyan Medical Systems to provide “telenursing” to hospitals currently fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partnership comes at a time when healthcare providers are embracing so-called telehealth services, and helping drive the use is the recent decision by Medicare to support funding of its use.

Under the arrangement, TeleHealth provides the AV technology – including a networked TV, mounted camera, and an integrated pillow speaker – while Banyan brings its “tech-enabled” staff.

The result: nurses who can supplement local hospital crews and monitor Covid-19 patients remotely, from out-of-state medical call-centers and from virtual nursing stations within the walls of the hospital itself.

“Hospitals are looking for new and creative approaches to treat patients while protecting staff from exposure to the coronavirus,” said Tony Buda, CEO of Banyan Medical Systems, which recently pledged $1 million to enable 100 isolation rooms across 20 hospitals in the United States.

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“We are working with TeleHealth Services to offer solutions that help hospitals minimize risks with fewer direct contacts between patients and staff.”

TeleHealth Services general manager Kevin Colores told WRAL TechWire that the service is already being rolled out at MarinHealth, located near San Francisco, to treat patients remotely and triage the coronavirus patients due to concerns about spreading the virus inside the hospital.

They are also looking to install the system at several facilities in the Triangle.

“One of the main concerns for hospitals right now is a high opportunity for them to start losing healthcare givers because if they were to get infected, then they’re not going to be able to see patients, either,” he said. “So this gives them an opportunity to put things in place and do it from a remote setup.”

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Already, there are 16 hospitals in North Carolina that employ TeleHealth integrated platforms – including Duke Raleigh, UNC Rex, Atrium Health and many in the UNC system.

Nationwide, TeleHealth said it has more than 2,500 healthcare clients and claimed to be “the first company to develop digital technology for hospital patient engagement and education.”

Its parent company, TLC, is a subsidiary of ITOCHU Corporation, a $52 billion Fortune Global 500 company based in Japan.

“We understand the demands on nurses and clinical staff in hospitals every day. This pandemic has the potential to quickly overwhelm hospital staff and capacity,” said Colores, in the announcement. “TeleHealth Services’ expertise with interactive patient care technology and AV systems both inside and outside the patient room is a key factor in rapidly deploying this telenursing solution. We are collaborating with Banyan to quickly help hospitals during this crisis, facilitating interactions without the need for direct contact that can spread the disease.”

Financial terms of the deal between TeleHealth and Banyan were not disclosed.