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How Mercy created a $54M virtual hospital in St. Louis

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In October 2015, Mercy Hospital St. Louis opened a $54 million, four-story hospital — and it doesn’t have any beds, according to CNN Money.

Mercy’s Virtual Care Center doesn’t hold patients, but is, instead home to 330 staffers designated to provide care to patients via telemedicine.

Mercy’s goal when building the hospital was to cut down on readmissions, the costs of which can drastically increase over time, according to the article.

And the initiative is working. Since launching last fall, the Virtual Care Center has led to a more than 33 percent decrease in Mercy’s emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

But it isn’t all easy. Mercy’s telemedicine “navigators” have to help patients understand that virtual healthcare can be just as effective as a visit to the hospital.

“You have to break that whole clinic kind of thinking with nursing: ‘Oh my gosh, he needs to go to the ER,'” said Dan Milner, a Mercy navigator. “[There’s] an antiquated idea of how people think healthcare should be.”

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