Virtual care options continue to rise

Telemedicine consultation

Virtual clinics and care options, which offer providers the ability to remotely treat patients and coordinate care with other facilities, are on the rise, according to a recent article in U.S. News & World Report.

One of the largest clinics, according to the article, is 125,000-square-foot Mercy Virtual Care Center in Chesterfield, Missouri, which opened last fall. There, 300 medical professionals at computers monitor care at 38 hospitals in seven states. They monitor ICUs miles away, according to the article, while neurologists guide stroke care at community hospitals, virtual hospitalists order and read tests and nurses take questions on myriad conditions. They also help coordinate care with primary care physicians for chronically ill patients who are monitored remotely.

So far, Mercy Virtual President Randall Moore told U.S. News,  ICU mortality is 40 percent less than predicted and the program has saved $40 million.

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Mercy's not the only system embracing virtual care, however. Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia also offers similar service using only its own physicians. The JeffConnect virtual clinic also offers consults in 18 medical specialties. It logged 3,000 visits last year, which it says resolved 85 percent of the cases without sending patients to the ER, according to U.S. News.

What's more, the University of Southern California is developing an app that combines virtual reality and artificial intelligence, in which patients will meet a  lifelike avatar of their doctor. This avatar, according to the article, will be able to recognize emotion and show empathy, and use a base of knowledge to provide triage and address less-serious problems.

To learn more:
- read the full U.S. News article

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