At some point in 2018, Intermountain will open the doors on a state-of-the-art virtual hospital in Salt Lake, CIO Marc Probst tells Internet Health Management.

A big regional health system known for its advances in digital healthcare and information technology is opening a virtual hospital.

Many big details such as the size, scope and cost of the program have yet to be announced by Intermountain Healthcare, a not-for-profit health system based in Salt Lake City with 23 hospitals and about 1,400 employed primary care and secondary care physicians at more than 185 clinics.

However, by at some point in 2018, Intermountain will open the doors on a state-of-the-art virtual hospital in Salt Lake, Intermountain chief information officer Marc Probst tells Internet Health Management. “This is very far along,” Probst says.

This is very far along

Virtual hospitals, which essentially are telehealth centers for  delivering digital provider consultations and remote patient monitoring, are beginning to emerge in the hospital market as hospitals and health systems look for new ways to deliver care directly to consumers online and use the web to better manage their business. “Everything we are doing with virtual care ties to a foundation and part of that foundation is the shift away from fee-for-service to value-added care,” Probst says.

For example, Mercy Health, a St. Louis healthcare system, spent $54 million  two years ago to open Mercy Virtual Care, a four-story, 125,000-square foot-facility in Chesterfield, Mo., with a staff of 600 doctors and related clinicians that use telehealth, electronic medical records and data analytics to diagnose patients and deliver care.

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At Intermountain, the launch of a virtual hospital facility is the next big project after the health system gets all of its hospitals integrated to its electronic health records systems from Cerner Corp., which has been in the works since Intermountain signed a deal with Cerner in 2013. In 2015 Cerner and Intermountain announced Intermountain would launch iCentra, an electronic health record, practice management and revenue cycle software system.

Intermountain has an established track record in using the web and digital healthcare. For example in 2016, Intermountain updated its digital patient portal—My Health—with new features that include scheduling physician appointments online, completing online Medicare annual wellness visit forms, viewing provider notes from a medical visit and messaging providers.

Intermountain, No. 27 in Internet Health Management’s 2017 Digital Hospital 500 rankings, also continues to build out its telehealth base. In 2016 4,400 patients used Connect Care, a consumer telehealth service that allows patients to access providers from their computer or mobile devices anytime.

In 2016, hospitals throughout the Intermountain system became connected via telehealth, which now allows specialists to support patients with more “virtual care” in areas such as critical care, stroke, newborn critical care, behavioral health and pediatrics. Telehealth technology also connects Intermountain specialists to seven out-of-system community hospitals in Utah, Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming.

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