Virtual Access

Leading-Edge Solutions

Exploration of Virtual Access

OSF HealthCare Cardiovascular Institute continues to ensure our patients have access to advanced cardiovascular care where and when they need it. As a leader in cardiovascular care, we continually evaluate how we connect our patients with their providers in innovative ways using new technology, so patients can be monitored closely.

Benefits of Virtual Access

  • Helps monitor patients
  • Decreases unnecessary face-to-face visits to provide easy access to the sickest patients
  • Makes adjustments in a patient’s treatment plan
  • Reduces the likelihood of hospitalization
  • Establishes optimal medical therapy to prevent further progression of their condition
  • Provides a proactive form of treatment 
  • Prevents extra costs and complications for the patient


Modeled after the Mayo Clinic e-Consults, cardiology was the first specialty at OSF HealthCare to implement and utilize e-Consults.

A group of OSF HealthCare Cardiovascular Institute cardiologists monitor a specific folder within the electronic medical record called Epic. If an OSF HealthCare primary care physician has a patient with a cardiology concern or question, the primary care doctor sends the question to the cardiologists via Epic. Then, the cardiologist that was assigned the question opens the patient’s chart and addresses the question strictly based on what’s in the patient’s chart within 24 hours.

If the cardiologist feels there is enough information in the patient’s chart to answer the question, the cardiologist provides an answer electronically through Epic and sends it back to the primary care physician. If the cardiologist feels that there isn’t enough information to provide an accurate answer to the question, the cardiologist would request a face-to-face appointment with the patient. With e-Consults, there is no fee and a patient interview or exam is not necessary.

Currently, OSF HealthCare is looking to expand e-Consults to more specialties throughout OSF HealthCare and making the service accessible to non-OSF primary care physicians in the future.

Discrete Data

In collaboration with OSF HealthCare data analysts, OSF HealthCare Cardiovascular Institute is developing ways to abstract discrete data from narrative reports in Epic.

Discrete data are specific numbers assigned to specific conditions within a patient’s chart. For example, a heart failure patient would have the number 40 assigned to their chart because they have heart failure.

Narrative reports are typed reports about a patient, but don’t always have discrete data numbers within them.

With this project, analysts are developing ways to identify words, such as heart failure, in a narrative report and giving those words a discrete data number. Then, if all patients’ charts have the correct discrete numbers, a computer can pull all patients with heart failure or other conditions and find out if each of those patients are getting the correct care for their condition. This helps monitor gaps in care.

Predictive Models

In addition to developing ways to abstract discrete data, OSF HealthCare analysts are also developing predictive models to prevent at-risk patients from developing heart failure. There are certain characteristics patients have to put them at risk for developing heart failure. But we don’t know how powerful each characteristic is in developing heart failure.

With this project, analysts are looking at hundreds of characteristics in already-diagnosed heart failure patients and trying to understand what types of characteristics might be common to them as a patient with heart failure. Then, if a current patient without a heart failure diagnosis shows a variety of these heart failure characteristics, the cardiologist can identify that patient as high risk for developing heart failure. Once a cardiologist knows that, they can do specific tests and particular follow-up exams to find signs of early deterioration and intervene in hopes of stopping heart failure from happening.