The Indian River County, FL Hospital District Hired a Consulting Firm to Strategize on Options for its Struggling Indian River Medical Center (IRMC). Does it have the Punch to Explore Having IRMC Become an Innovative Virtual Hospital?

Hospital of the Future

The future of hospital operations resembles an air traffic control tower.

NO DOUBT YOU HAVE READ THAT A JOINT COMMITTEE OF INDIAN RIVER MEDIAL CENTER (IRMC) AND INDIAN RIVER COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT (IRCHD) TRUSTEES, WITH FUNDING FROM THE INDIAN RIVER COUNTRY TAX PAYERS, HAS HIRED STROUDWATER ASSOCIATES TO HELP DETERMINE THE FUTURE OF THE STRUGGLING NON-PROFIT HOSPITAL.

Will Stroudwater’s study incorporate concepts that would increase IRMC’s asset value by having it become a virtual care center?

The hospital of the future resembles an air traffic control tower, where new and emerging remote patient monitoring technology provides at-home patients with near-instant access to care givers, without hospital visits.

The concept is to keep patients out of the hospital, as opposed to what IRMC has proposed, keeping in them in the hospital by building a $ 100 million tower containing upgraded patient rooms; a project the has been put on hold.

In 2015, Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems in 2016 by Truven, an IBM company, opened the world’s first facility dedicated entirely to care outside its own walls.

It is a four-story, 125,000 square-foot facility with 330 Mercy co-workers without any patients.

According to Dr. Randy Moore, president of Mercy Virtual, “We have a medical team here, but with technology like highly-sensitive cameras and real-time vital signs, our providers can ‘see’ patients where they are.”

They can not only “see” patients where they are, but they can “see” their high risk patients everyday in their homes to keep them healthier and out of the hospital.

Tampa General Hospital has developed an application you can download on your smartphone, tablet or computer that allows you to visit a doctor live any time, anywhere 24/7/365.

Using the app, patients can explain their symptoms and hear the medical opinions and advice of a board-certified doctor via voice and video in real time, allowing for live face-to-face care.  The hospital reports that wait times average six minutes and a doctor can typically resolve a health problem in 10 minutes.

Commonly treated conditions include:

  • Sinus Infection
  • Sore Throat
  • Flu
  • Pink Eye
  • Cough
  • Bronchitis
  • Rash
  • Asthma
  • UTI

In 2015, Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands, a Dutch technology company with primary divisions focused in the areas of electronics, healthcare and lighting, and Banner Health, a non-profit health system in the United States, based in Phoenix, Arizona that operates 22 hospitals and several specialized facilities across six states, announced the results of their 2013 “Telehealth” pilot program for patients with multiple chronic conditions.

Telehealth allows people to receive high-quality health care from the comfort of their own homes.  Through the use of a tablet-like device, patients interact daily with their health care team to remotely monitor patient symptoms and vital signs to provide timely,  focused interventions.

The results of the 2013 Telehealth pilot program achieved:

  • 45% reduction in hospitalizations
  • 32% reduction in acute and long term care costs
  • 27% reduction in cost of care

Technology is transforming the traditional hospital.

According to an April 8, 2017 article in The Economist“Hospitals could operate more like a cross between a modern airport and a swish hotel, with mobil check-in, self-service kiosks for blood and urine tests and the like, and updates on patient’s  and relatives phones.  For pre-planned visits an an algorithm could decide which tests are needed  before a patient leaves home.  Some of these could be done in advance and the results streamed directly to patients’ electronic records.”

Cortium, a Denmark-based start-up raised $ 1.6 million in 1915 to develop wearable health sensors designed for both in-patient and home health monitoring.  Their device, called the C3, can measure ECG, heart rate, respiratory rate, skin surface temperature, heart rate discovery, sleep analysis, heart rate variability, physical activity level and motion.  This data is sent to a tablet and then onto a portal where it can be relied by the provider.

Once again, according to The Economist, “one useful consequence of these new technologies, would be to ease a looming labour shortage.  Without a big leap in productivity America alone will lack up to 90,000 doctors by 2025.

And worldwide demand for health care is growing as lives – and that part of them lived in poor health -grew longer.  The World Bank estimates that by 2030 the number of healthcare workers will need to double, compared to 2013 – an extra 40 million workers globally.”

Will these concepts be explored by Stroudwater Associates?  The IRMC could become a leader.

Airport tower

 

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