Telemedicine is removing geographical boundaries and bringing patients and providers together. That's according to HealthLeaders Media, which features Mercy President and CEO Lynn Britton in its cover story, "The Reality of Virtual Care," in the April 2015 edition.
"To be comprehensive, we have to have the virtual dimension of [health care]," Britton explains in the article. "That removes the geographic boundaries that constrain us, and it has a huge impact on our ability to enhance quality and the service experience for patients."
Later this year, Mercy will open Mercy Virtual, the world's first virtual care center. The four-story, 120,000-square-foot center located in Chesterfield, Missouri, will accommodate hundreds of physicians, nurses, specialists, researchers and support staff. They'll deliver care around the clock 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.
Reflecting on Mercy's 10-year journey into telemedicine, Britton said to HealthLeaders, "What's taken off in the past four or five years is the way our physicians have embraced [telemedicine]. They now see these technologies as a clinical tool, and they're imagining how to practice medicine using them, and are driving, in a sense, the experimentation and the innovating going on."
Mercy is the fifth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves millions annually. Mercy includes 35 acute care hospitals, four heart hospitals, two children’s hospitals, three rehab hospitals and two orthopedic hospitals, nearly 700 clinic and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.