Digital Transformation

Developing and Leading Virtual Wards

Deliver safe, effective, patient-centred hospital care in the place patients call home

About the course

The global Covid-19 pandemic placed an unprecedented burden on hospital capacity, leading to the rapid establishment of virtual wards that allowed patients to get the care they needed at the place they call home, safely and conveniently.  In a virtual ward, rather than being in hospital patients are remotely monitored using apps, technology platforms, wearables and medical devices such as pulse oximeters.  Support may also involve face-to-face care from multi-disciplinary teams.

Initial evaluations of virtual wards show they are generally safe with a low risk of readmission and death. (1) (2)  Moreover, a recent systematic review of twenty-four randomised controlled trials comparing the outcomes of virtual ward care with those of usual post-discharge care in 10,876 patients with a range of conditions found that, across all diseases, virtual wards are associated with fewer emergency department visits, shorter lengths of stay during readmissions and lower healthcare costs.(3)

Despite the promise of virtual wards, however, few resources are currently available on how to set-up and run such services successfully.  Featuring the voices of the innovators and early adopters who have already established virtual wards, this course is therefore designed to enable inexperienced teams or professionals to set-up and manage their own virtual wards and, in so doing, spread the virtual ward model of care across their health and social care economy.

What you’ll learn

On completion of this course you’ll be able to:

  • understand what virtual wards are, how they work and how to get started with setting one up
  • develop a patient pathway for your virtual ward and identify its clinical and operational requirements
  • develop standard operating procedures for each stage of the pathway
  • use Skills for Health’s Virtual Ward Capabilities Framework to develop and build a competent virtual ward team
  • develop a service specification and choose the right monitoring technologies
  • assure appropriate clinical and information governance and regulatory compliance 
  • involve patients, family members and other carers in the design of your virtual ward
  • measure and evaluate the quality, safety and clinical outcomes that your virtual ward delivers

How you’ll learn

This course is broken down into eight weekly modules:

  • work at your own speed through a carefully curated collection of self-paced online learning materials that include video lectures, podcasts, interviews and real-world case studies
  • evidence-based research from peer-reviewed publications will help you dig more deeply into topics that really interest you
  • you are not alone – you will interact with other course members, collaborate on learning activities and get direct feedback and coaching from the course leader during weekly Zoom webinars
  • earn professional certification by completing weekly learning activities and mini-projects

This course should take approximately 4 – 6 hours per week.  You can expect to devote about 1 – 2 hours per week to self-paced learning, 1 – 2 hours per week preparing for and participating in the webinar and 1 – 2 hours per week applying your knowledge through learning activities and mini-projects.  Every webinar is recorded so you can rewatch it at any time.

Who should take this course?

This course will benefit anyone, whether they have a clinical or management background, who is looking for structured, practical and easy-to-follow guidance that will enable them to set-up and manage their own virtual wards or spread the virtual ward model of care across their health and social care economy.

About the certificates

Upon successful completion of the course you’ll receive an:

  • IHLM Certificate of CPD Completion – This may be useful for course members who belong to professional bodies that have Continuing Professional Development requirements.  The course has an estimated 48 hours of guided learning.
  • IHLM Professional Certificate in Developing and Leading Virtual Wards – This is evidence of the skills and capabilities you’ve developed during the course.  The award of a professional certificate requires completion of learning activities and mini-projects during each module.

How to register

Ready to start?  Just click the ‘Register now’ button at the top of this page or use the ‘Ask us a question’ button if you’d like to talk to one of our course facilitators.  The fee for this course is £795 per person.  If you’d like to pay in instalments you can arrange this by contacting us at:

We provide discounts to organisations registering 3 or more staff in the course and can also provide a customised in-house version tailored to your organisation’s specific needs.

All registrations are subject to our terms and conditions which are available here. By registering for an IHLM course you are accepting these terms and conditions and agreeing to be bound by them.


(1)  Ward et al, 2022. Outcomes from a virtual ward delivering oxygen at home for patients recovering from COVID-19: a real world observational study. Clinical Medicine; 22(3): 197 – 202.

(2)  O’Malley et al, 2022. A Covid-19 Virtual Ward Model: A Preliminary Retrospective Clinical Evaluation From A UK District General Hospital.  Journal of Primary Care and Community Health

(3)  Chauhan & McAlister, 2022. Comparison of Mortality and Hospital Readmissions Among Patients Receiving Virtual Ward Transitional Care vs Usual Postdischarge Care: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Network Open; 5(6).


Module 1: Getting Started With Virtual Wards

  • what is a virtual ward and why should you develop one?
  • research evidence on the impact and effectiveness of virtual wards
  • different virtual ward models and the types of patients they can care for
  • measuring current and forecast capacity for a planned virtual ward
  • engaging stakeholders and aligning your virtual ward with the needs of your health and social care economy

Module 2: Developing a Clinical Pathway for a Virtual Ward

  • deciding on what the clinical pathway(s) will be
  • identifying the clinical and operational requirements for each pathway
  • continuous or spot check? – defining the level of patient monitoring required by each pathway
  • assuring local clinical governance

Module 3: Developing Standard Operating Procedures

  • clinical assessment: defining inclusion and exclusion criteria plus referral routes
  • admitting and onboarding patients and supporting them to use technology
  • monitoring and managing patients
  • escalation plans, including self-escalation
  • recovery, discharge and follow-up

Module 4: Choosing the Right Workforce

  • what are the staffing and workforce needs of the different virtual ward models?
  • appointing a named consultant practitioner
  • using Skills for Health’s Virtual Ward Capabilities Framework
  • developing an onboarding and training plan for virtual ward staff
  • appraising the skills, capabilities and performance of virtual ward staff

Module 5: Choosing the Right Technologies

  • developing a service specification that enables you to choose the right monitoring technology
  • aligning your choice of technology with the needs of your clinical pathway and patients
  • defining the clinical and operational data to be captured
  • using the NHSX Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) for health and social care
  • assuring accessibility, usability and interoperability

Module 6: Legal and Regulatory Aspects of Virtual Wards

  • Information Governance – preparing a data protection impact assessment
  • clinical safety and clinical risk management standards for virtual wards
  • assuring adequate and appropriate clinical negligence indemnity cover
  • HMRA approvals for medical devices and software-as-a-service
  • giving patients the information they need to give informed consent

Module 7: Patient and Family Experience

  • what level of support will patients need with the technologies you’ve chosen?
  • completing an Equality Impact Assessment and avoiding digital exclusion
  • designing and communicating patient information and ensuring shared decision-making
  • involving carers and family members

Module 8: Measuring and Evaluating Virtual Wards

  • how will we know if our virtual wards is a success?
  • quality and outcome metrics for virtual wards
  • common outcome measures: including discharge, admission and readmission, costs, mortality
  • common quality measures: including safety and patient experience


Course Factfile

  • Next session: 13 June 2023
  • Duration: 8 weeks
  • Commitment: 4-6 hours a week
  • Qualification: Certificate
  • Cost: £795
  • Location: Online

Find out more about Developing and Leading Virtual Wards


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