St. Louis 'virtual' hospital hopes to make very real improvements in care

The buzzwords related to information technology and advanced communication are familiar—digital, virtual, real-time, eHealth, telemedicine. But sometimes they can be used in a way that’s a bit confusing.

For example, a facility outside St. Louis, in suburban Chesterfield, Missouri, is perhaps the world’s most advanced virtual hospital. But the building is real, the doctors are real, the nurses making rounds are real. It’s just the patients that are missing.

Mercy Virtual Care Center is virtual in the sense that specialists care for patients remotely, with individuals often checking in with nurses and doctors while laying on a couch or sitting up in bed.

POITICO recently published an in-depth examination of Mercy Virtual, an endeavor that begin in 2006 as an office in Mercy’s St. Louis hospital before eventually moving into its own building in 2015.

As the piece points out, Mercy Virtual is position itself as an ideal alternative to traditional hospitals as healthcare transitions to value-based care and away from fee-for-service payment models.

“Our idea is to deliver better patient care and outcomes at lower cost, so we can say to an insurer, ‘You expect to spend $100 million on this population this year,” Mercy Virtual President Randy Moore said to POLITICO. “We can do it for $98 million with fewer hospitalizations, fewer deaths and everyone’s happy.’ It’s a very strong future business model.”

Read the full piece here.