Aug 4, 2020 - Health

Atrium Health CEO says "virtual hospital" has treated 13,000 COVID patients

Eugene Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health

Axios' Caitlin Owens and Eugene Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health.

Atrium Health President and CEO Eugene Woods said at an Axios virtual event Tuesday that the company's "virtual hospital" system helped treat 13,000 coronavirus patients from their homes.

Why it matters: Woods believes that the telemedicine approach could outlive the pandemic and be a core part of "how we deliver care differently in the future."

The big picture: Throughout the pandemic, patients were asked to call ahead or use telemedicine for non-emergency treatments. Many hospitals, doctors and even elected officials now see virtual care as a default for most Americans.

  • Atrium cared for both patients who had mild symptoms and who needed critical care.
  • Doctors and nurses monitored vital signs daily, virtually checked in on patients and, if needed, would send a physician to their home.

By the numbers: Woods said that of the 13,000 COVID-19 patents Atrium's virtual hospital treated, only 3% needed to be transferred or admitted to an actual hospital.

What he's saying: "When we realized the significance of this pandemic, and the magnitude of it, we realized we didn’t have enough hospital capacity," Woods said, noting that this triggered plans for virtual care.

  • The virtual hospital can provide hassle-free check-ups for young people and senior citizens who prefer care from their home, Woods argued.
  • "If you think about rural America, people that live in rural America tend to be older, tend to have more chronic conditions, tend to have less access to care. So I think what we're seeing, because of our system Atrium, we provide care in urban and rural areas — we’re taking care of everyone."
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