Thomas Hale

Identifying Healthcare Needs and Challenges: Health System Perspective


Thomas H. Hale, MD, PhD, executive medical director for Mercy’s Telehealth Services.

In describing Mercy’s vision for providing telehealth support throughout Mercy’s system of 32 hospitals and more than 300 outpatient facilities in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, Dr. Hale says “At Mercy, we believe quality care should not be

based on your zip code. Through relationships, training and technology, we help your teams extend the most advanced care to the people in your community, wherever and whenever they need it.”


During the summit, Dr. Hale will describe how the Mercy Health System is using telehealth to effectively and efficiently deliver health care to Mercy communities, large and small. This new care model combines people and technology to extend Mercy’s reach and services beyond the walls of doctors’ offices, hospital campuses and other traditional facilities. To support these telehealth efforts, Mercy is developing a $90 million virtual care center. The center will be staffed by doctors and nurses and linked electronically to Mercy hospitals, clinics and even patient homes via telemedicine technology. In 2006, Mercy began its first telemedicine initiative by monitoring over 400 ICU beds in Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas. Today, Mercy uses telemedicine to:


·      Bring hard-to-find specialists to Mercy hospitals, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

·      Ensure that Mercy patients get the care they need, exactly when and where they need it – in their communities and in their homes.

·      Provide needed relief for Mercy specialists, allowing them to enjoy a better quality of life and greater job satisfaction. 


Currently, Mercy provides consults in a number of specialties including child psychology, neonatology and neurosurgery. Telehome care is provided to support patients with chronic ailments, including diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease. Teleradiology services help health care providers with diagnoses, treatment and recovery. Maternal and fetal medicine specialists monitor fetal heart rates; observe fetal movement, breathing, muscle tone and amniotic fluid levels; measure blood flow from mother to baby; and offer genetic counseling and testing via telemedicine. Stroke patients are seen in their local Emergency Department with a neurologist in Mercy’s virtual care center using telemedicine and electronic health information exchange.


Mercy is the eighth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. A team of more than 1,700 Mercy primary and specialty care physicians, 600 advanced practitioners and supporting staff deliver health care services in 32 hospitals (almost half of which are in extremely rural communities) and more than 300 outpatient facilities in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.



Prior to being named to executive medical director for Mercy’s Telehealth Services in 2009, Dr. Hale maintained a patient practice for 23 years and served as president of Mercy Medical Group for 15 years. He and other area physicians established this integrated primary care group in association with Mercy in 1994. Dr. Hale served as the physician leader for Mercy’s implementation of a fully integrated electronic health record system covering more than 20 hospitals and 500 ambulatory sites. He holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Saint Louis University. He attended the University of Missouri-Columbia Medical School. He completed his internal medicine internship and residency at Mercy Hospital St. Louis. In 2011, he earned a Master’s degree in medical informatics from Northwestern University.

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