The St. Louis-based Mercy health system has been on a nearly decade-long telehealth journey. Next year, it will find a home.
The 33-hospital Catholic system last week held a “virtual” groundbreaking ceremony for a 120,000-square-foot, four-story Virtual Care Center that will host in a single location a projected 75 telemedicine programs, from multiple electronic intensive-care unit services to home monitoring to teleradiology to a 24/7 nurse call center.
Mercy, which employs 2,100 physicians in clinics scattered across four states, launched its first telehealth program, a virtual ICU, roughly a decade ago. The new building is expected to open sometime next year and be home to 300 physicians, nurses, researchers and support staff, facilitating an expected 3 million telehealth visits over the subsequent five years.
One of the major barriers to widespread adoption of telehealth in the U.S. has been a misalignment of incentives linked to fee-for-service payment models. Payment reforms provide compensation to cover not only the costs of running telehealth programs, but also to offset revenue losses when the programs keep people out of the hospital.
Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn