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Engagement at Home : Home-health innovation at Mercy

About Mercy:

Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems in 2017 by Truven, an IBM Watson Health company, serves millions annually. Mercy includes 43 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices 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.

Telehealth at Mercy:

As outcome based models take root Telehealth initiatives will become mainstream. SG2estimates:

  • By 2024 15% of all US evaluation and management visits will occur virtually

  • 70% of surveyed patients reported being comfortable replacing select in-person visits with texts, email or video

  • By 2023 17% of Evaluation & Management visits will occur virtually

  • By 2023 262 million visits will be conducted virtually

A relatively new Mercy program called Engagement@Home brings health care providers to the patient’s home, virtually, through a secure internet connection, a tablet, and wireless monitoring equipment. A patient starts each day by taking his or her weight, pulse, oxygen levels and blood pressure on devices that link to the tablet. Those readings then alert the Mercy Virtual team to sudden changes so they can reach out to the patient and see what’s happening. They might tweak medication or make simple suggestions, like drinking more water or resting for a bit. The patient also has twice-a-week appointments with a Mercy Virtual caregiver, and can always call them for help.

“Mercy’s Virtual Care Center, in collaboration with the traditional care team, has decreased unnecessary hospitalization and emergency room visits by 50 percent,” said Dr. Gavin Helton, Mercy Virtual’s medical director of ambulatory medicine. “That’s a huge improvement in these patients’ quality of life. It means they’re feeling better and doing more of what they want.”

We talked to Scott Ritchert - Vice President-Enterprise Infrastructure Services at Mercy about the Engagement@Home Telehealth initiative.



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