Have you ever been sitting at home and feeling unwell but not sure if you should go to the hospital? Have you ever been in the hospital and needed a specialist who was half a country away? Now imagine having access to a doctor right in your home who can talk over your symptoms with you, or the ability to talk to that specialist face-to-face without ever leaving your hospital bed.
These are the kind of possibilities that are becoming a reality thanks to the Missouri-based Mercy health system’s Virtual Care Center. The Virtual Care Center is the world’s first medical facility dedicated entirely to virtual care outside of its walls.
Branded a “hospital without beds” the Virtual Care Center 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.
According to the American Telemedicine Association, more than 15 million Americans received some kind of remote care last year, and that number is expected to increase another 30 percent by the end of 2016. In that same time 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 who were expected to 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.
The innovative new techniques and practices brought on by Mercy’s Virtual Care Center 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.
It is this level of innovation that continues to set Missouri companies apart from their competitors. Combine this with the fact that Missouri employees are hard working, conscientious, and have a proven ability to adjust to technology and you can see why more and more companies choose Missouri to expand their business.