Mercy officially broke ground on the first virtual care center in the U.S., marking another milestone in the health system’s promise to transform health care.
“Telemedicine lets us provide the best possible care to people where and when they need it – even when patients wouldn’t otherwise have access to specialists, such as neurologists and pediatric cardiologists,” said Lynn Britton, Mercy president and CEO. “The center will bring together the nation’s best telehealth professionals to reach more patients, develop more telemedicine services and improve how we deliver virtual care through education and innovation.”
The four-story, 125,000-square-foot center located in Chesterfield, Missouri, will open in 2015 and accommodate more than 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 health care providers and large employers. The center also will be a hub for advancing telemedicine through research and training.
“There’s a decreasing number of physicians in both rural and urban areas, while at the same time there’s a growing senior population that will require more care,” said Dr. Tom Hale, executive medical director of Mercy Virtual. “Telemedicine will have a significant impact by letting virtual physicians and nurses be the first point of triage and care for patients in the hospital, emergency room or even at home. Mercy’s virtual care frees up physicians while also attending to patients faster than before, and our specialists bring a level of expertise that would be impossible to share without telemedicine.”
Representing an investment of $54 million, 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 intensive care unit (ICU) as well as the following:
“With a decade of telemedicine experience behind us, Mercy is now a recognized leader in this vital health care field,” said Britton. “We’ve pioneered a telehealth plan that no longer limits advanced care because of age, illness or geography. We can deliver a higher level of care to more people, and the Virtual Care Center is at the heart of it – providing care for today while also developing the health care of tomorrow.”
The Virtual Groundbreaking