Penn State Health will become a virtual care services hub through a partnership with Mercy Virtual. Initially, Mercy will virtually monitor intensive care unit patients at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and will expand to other facilities and programs in the future. The ultimate goal is to create a health care consortium in which Penn State Health will become a Mercy hub for providing virtual care services to other hospitals in central Pennsylvania.
“Virtual care will positively impact our quality, cost and the patient experience across our health system and beyond because it will allow us to identify and meet patients’ needs earlier,” said Dr. Craig Hillemeier, CEO of Penn State Health. “Having this ‘second set of eyes’ on our most ill and injured patients will identify and meet patients’ needs faster, often presenting simpler and less intensive solutions. In the long term, this type of partnership can help address the nursing and physician specialist shortages across the country. Together, Penn State Health and Mercy will map out new ways to leverage virtual care to meet future challenges.”
Penn State Health will leverage Mercy’s decade of telemedicine experience to expand its own capabilities in this field.
LionNet, Penn State Health’s telemedicine program for stroke, added four community hospitals to its network in the past year for a total of 14 partner hospitals. LionNet brings the resources of Penn State’s comprehensive stroke center to communities across central Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Penn State Health dermatologists are now conducting consults via telemedicine, utilizing secure technology that allows providers to send data and images. A recently launched telemedicine initiative allows physicians in the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Emergency Department to connect with colleagues at Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute in Harrisburg on patient consults that require specialty support. The result for patients is enhanced access to timely, cost-effective specialty care closer to where they live. In addition, Mercy and others will benefit from Penn State Health’s nationally renowned medical research, education, analytics experience and many areas of clinical expertise.