Penn State Health has signed a partnership agreement with Mercy Virtual to virtually monitor intensive care unit (ICU) patients at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, a leading university health center. Over time, the partnership will expand cross Penn State Health facilities and programs, drawing on both partners’ expertise to create new care models across the region. The partnership marks Mercy’s second virtual medicine agreement in recent months.
Mercy and University of North Carolina Health Care system teamed up earlier in the year. The ultimate goal of this latest partnership is to create a health care consortium in which Penn State Health will in the near future become a Mercy hub for providing virtual care services to other hospitals in the central Pennsylvania region.
Beyond increasing quality, access and efficiency for patients served by Penn State Health, Mercy and other Mercy Virtual partners, Penn State will leverage Mercy’s decade of telemedicine experience to expand its own capabilities in this field.
LionNet, Penn State Health’s telemedicine program for stroke, added four community hospitals to its network in the past year for a total of 14 partner hospitals. LionNet brings the resources of Penn State’s comprehensive stroke center to communities across central Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Penn State dermatologists are now conducting consults via telemedicine, utilizing secure technology that allows providers to send data and images. And a recently launched telemedicine initiative allows physicians in the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Emergency Department to connect with colleagues at Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute in Harrisburg on patient consults that require specialty support. The result for patients is enhanced access to timely, cost-effective specialty care closer to where they live.
In addition, Mercy and others will benefit from Penn State Health’s nationally renowned medical research, education, analytics experience and many areas of clinical expertise.
“By tapping into each other’s experience, we speed up the benefits to patients,” said Moore. “Mercy is building on more than a decade of innovations and learning so Penn State Health’s virtual journey to where we are today will be much faster. Together, our shared experiences will increase innovation while reducing costs and risks.”
Mercy’s Virtual Care Center houses 330 specialized medical professionals and is designed to be a workspace for innovations in patient care and product testing. The new building is the nerve center for Mercy’s existing telemedicine programs, including:
Mercy SafeWatch – Launched in 2006, it’s the largest single-hub electronic intensive care unit (ICU) in the nation. Doctors and nurses monitor patients’ vital signs and provide a second set of eyes to bedside caregivers in 30 ICUs across five states. SafeWatch ICUs have seen a 15 percent reduction in how long patients stay in the hospital.
Telestroke – Many community emergency rooms (ERs) across the country don’t have a neurologist on-site. With Mercy’s telestroke program, patients who come to the ER with symptoms of a stroke can be seen immediately by a neurologist via telemedicine.
Virtual Hospitalists – A team of doctors is dedicated to seeing patients within the hospital around-the-clock using virtual care technology. They can order needed tests or read results, resulting in quicker care.
Home Monitoring – Mercy provides continuous monitoring for hundreds of chronically ill patients in their homes after hospitalization.