St. Louis, Mo.-based Mercy Health today officially open its Virtual Care Center, a first of its kind $54 million 125,000-square-foot building that will serve as the center of its existing telemedicine programs. 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 building space is designed to invite collaboration and new ideas for getting care to patients when and where they need it, with less expense. Mercy has invested more than $200 million in virtual care capabilities since 2006, as well as extended expertise to other health system partners.
“We have the medical team here, but with technology like highly-sensitive cameras and real-time vital signs, our providers can ‘see’ patients where they are. That may be in one of Mercy’s traditional hospitals, a physician office or in some cases, the patient’s home.”
Virtual care integrates telemedicine technology with realtime electronic health record data. Advanced algorithms detect patients needing intervention immediately. Most importantly, telemedicine provides more efficient ways for virtual clinicians and bedside caregivers to work together to improve patient care., 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.
In one newly-launched pilot program, an internal medicine doctor checks in daily with a small set of high-risk patients. “We’re testing the concept that a virtual visit every day in the homes of those patients will keep them healthier and out of the hospital,” Dr. Moore said. “Rather than having a lot of different doctors for each of those patients’ conditions, they have one doctor who’s monitoring everything. The people and technology in place here make that possible. It’s easy to see if new ideas work. Basically, you dream it or build it and we can test it quickly.”