An around-the-clock telestroke program and an electronic intensive care unit (eICU) are among the telemedicine services planned for the country’s first virtual care center at the Missouri-based Mercy, officials said.
The four-story, 120,000-square-foot center will open in 2015 and accommodate nearly 300 physicians, nurses, specialists, researchers and support staff. Care will be delivered 24/7 via audio, video and data connections to locations across Mercy as well as outside of Mercy through partnerships with other healthcare providers and large employers. Mercy estimates that the center will manage more than 3 million telehealth visits in the next five years. The center also will be a hub for advancing telemedicine through research and training.
A decreasing number of physicians in both rural and urban areas, coupled with a growing senior population are the impetus for this center, Mercy officials say. Virtual physicians and nurses will be the first point of triage and care for patients in the hospital, emergency room (ER) or even at home.
Representing an investment of approximately $50 million in development, the new facility will serve as the command center for all of Mercy’s telemedicine programs — a growing list that includes the nation’s largest single-hub electronic ICU (eICU) and features more than 75 other services, including:
- SafeWatch eICU — Using in-room, two-way audio, video and computer connections, Mercy doctors and nurses provide around-the-clock monitoring of a hospital’s ICU patients. These critical-care specialists use high-tech tools to identify abnormalities, uncover potential problems and assist with care when a patient’s attending physician is not in the ICU.
- Telestroke — Patients who come to the ER with symptoms of a stroke can be seen immediately not only by an ER doctor, but by telestroke neurologists who are on call and available day or night via telemedicine to help diagnose the patient and order lifesaving stroke medication if necessary.
- Pediatric Telecardiology — A virtual pediatric cardiology team minimizes turnaround time for echocardiograms for patients, producing results in 24 hours or less.
- Telesepsis l Mercy’s electronic health record (EHR) automatically searches for more than 800 warning signs to identify patients at risk for sepsis and alerts doctors, so they can move aggressively to prevent it.
- Teleradiology — A remote radiology medical team provides nonstop support to radiology groups to minimize turnaround times for patients and maximize productivity.
- Telepathology — Available at all hours, an online pathology medical team can quickly provide general and specific diagnostic services.
- Nurse-on-call — Experienced registered nurses provide 24/7 health advice with this nationwide telephone triage service.
- Home Monitoring — Mercy provides continuous monitoring for more than 1,000 patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure, reducing hospitalization and readmissions, as well as helping them live independently for longer.
Source: Mercy, May 12, 2014
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