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Missouri-based Virtual Care Center Using mHealth Wearables To Provide Enhanced Virtual Care

Mercy Virtual is using mHealth wearables in remote patient monitoring programs that give care providers real-time data on patients in member hospitals. Soon that program will expand to the home.

The St. Louis-based hospital, branded as a “hospital without beds” provides remote support for intensive-care units, emergency rooms, physician’s offices, and even in patients’ homes. The center acts as a hub for Mercy’s wide-range of telemedicine programs including Mercy SafeWatch, the largest single-hub electronic intensive care unit in the U.S., allowing doctors and nurses monitor patients’ vital signs in 30 ICUs across five states.

The Virtual Care Center has been using VitalConnect’s VitalPatch sensor and Vista Solution platform as part of its telemedicine network, enabling care providers to monitor up to eight biometric signs of patients being treated at its partner hospitals.

“We’re using technology to let us see what the patient is doing in real time,” said Mark Saxon, Mercy Virtual’s Vice President of Clinical Operations.

The VitalPatch is a disposable patch that affixes to the skin and continuously monitors single-lead ECG (electrocardiography), heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, skin temperature, body posture, fall detection and activity for up to 120 hours.

At the Virtual Care Center, Saxon sees the connected care platform as a means of freeing the patient from uncomfortable and constricting wire-based sensors.

“The amount of stuff we can tether a patient to at the bedside … is almost criminal,” said Saxon. “What we’re trying to do is get away from that.”

Since opening the Virtual Care Center Mercy has seen a 35 percent decrease in the length of patients’ stays, and 30 percent fewer deaths than expected. To put it into perspective that is roughly 1,000 people whom statistics indicated would die, but didn’t thanks to the virtual expertise displayed by the Missouri team.

That success can be attributed to the way telemedicine works. For the first time doctors are able to link up with patients via phone, webcam and email, and through new technologies and devices patients can relay symptoms and vital signs to doctors who can then manage chronic conditions right in the home. Additionally doctors have gained the ability to consult with each other remotely to help make life saving decisions that weren’t possible before, especially in rural areas that often times lack the specialists found in large cities.

“We’re connected in the home with biometrics. We also do two-way audio/video,” said  Dr. Gavin Helton, president of clinical integration at Mercy Virtual. “We have the ability through analytics to predict when patients are potentially going to decompensate and which patients require what level of care. One of the programs in particular is focused on complex, chronically ill patients.

Those patients typically have continual needs, yet the traditional model cares for them episodically. Leveraging technology, we’re preventing them from going back and forth into the hospital to receive care for their chronic condition and bringing the care to them in the home.”

These innovative new techniques and practices have the potential to change the way the world approaches health care. With the continued growth of technology doctors and patients in developing nations will have access to a global network of highly trained nurses and physicians to aid them in making potentially life saving decisions.

And Missouri health innovation companies are at the center of it all.

For more information on Missouri’s health innovation industry check out our webpage, or contact Steve Johnson, CEO of Missouri Partnership, at 314.725.2688 or via our contact form. He will answer any questions you might have, and explain how Missouri Partnership can help with your business expansion and investment needs.

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