Atrium uses 30 virtual care programs

Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health uses more than 30 virtual care programs to provide access to care to its patients regardless of location, according to a new whitepaper from the health system.

"Delivering care through technology or virtually is a tactic we're successfully using to care for our patients and reach underserved populations and communities," Katie Kriener, senior vice president of virtual health for Charlotte-based Advocate Health, of which Atrium Health is a part, said in a Jan. 29 news release from Atrium. "It allows us to do more, be better and go faster to help more people live well."

Home-based care

Atrium's hospital-at-home program, its flagship virtual care platform, offers patients the option to receive hospital-level care in the comfort of their homes. The program, which was initially developed in under three weeks to address pandemic-related overcrowding, has since expanded, offering acute, chronic and postsurgical care. 

Presently, the program can care for about 60 patients daily, but by 2025, Atrium said leaders hope to increase capacity to 200 daily patients. 

Virtual nursing

Atrium also developed its virtual nursing program during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this program, a virtual nurse oversees approximately 10 patients, monitoring vital signs, handling admissions and discharges, and facilitating communication with a nurse or physician when necessary.

This initiative, according to Atrium, has contributed to improved nurse retention, serves as an effective tool for mentoring new nurses, and has demonstrated positive outcomes in reducing patient falls.

Going forward, the health system plans to incorporate virtual nursing capabilities into its new hospital construction projects.

Virtual school care

Atrium offers on-site virtual care clinics in 150 schools, colleges and community sites. 

According to the health system, this program has led to a 32% reduction in preventable emergency department visits and a 50% return-to-classroom rate for students. 

Virtual behavioral health

In response to the increased need for behavioral healthcare during the pandemic, Atrium Health expanded its virtual behavioral health programs. 

At Atrium, consult teams support 12 acute care hospitals, including those without a staff psychiatrist in rural areas. Virtual behavioral health capabilities are also embedded into 65 primary care practices. 

"With greater demand, Atrium Health has also found providing virtual behavioral healthcare allows it to help a greater number of patients each day than is possible in an office setting," the release reads. 

The full whitepaper, titled "Transforming Health Care Delivery Through Virtual Care," can be found here

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