COVID-19 Innovation Projects



Telemedicine has been a mainstay at Houston Methodist since 2016.  When the COVID-19 pandemic escalated in early March 2020, Houston Methodist already had the tools in place to transition many of our clinicians and patients to interact through telemedicine platforms. 
Over 300 physicians trained on telemedicine tools through the newly opened Technology Hub
19 service lines and over 800 providers using telemedicine services in our outpatient services 
100,000+ total telemedicine visits with patients in the first 8 weeks of the COVID-19 response, including e-visits, EPIC MyChart video visit, and telephone consults 



Houston Methodist had been in discussions with Syllable to partner together prior to COVID-19.  Once the pandemic hit, we quickly shifted to immediately addressing people contacting Houston Methodist through our call center and website about donating blood plasma, triaging patients for COVID-19 testing, and scheduling appointments.

  • Went live in early May 2020


Enhanced Patient Experience with Amazon Alexa

In collaboration with Aiva Health, Houston Methodist has installed Amazon Alexa devices in several hospital rooms as a patient voice powered care assistant to help patients improve mental health, provide patient entertainment, and aide in relaxation.


  • Approximately 300 devices have currently been deployed to inpatient patient rooms across the hospital system
  • Patient Testimonial: We have had lots of patients use the Amazon Alexa Echo Dot device for music. In one COVID unit, a nurse asked to take one in to room 46 for a patient who was recently placed into hospice status and would love to listen to some church music.  The nurse deployed it, got it turned on for her, and she passed away peacefully a day later (with her heavenly music). 

Enhanced Patient Experience with Apple Ipads

To minimize isolation due to the COVID-19 No Visitation Policy, Houston Methodist has rolled out iPads to patient rooms in order to connect family with patients and physicians. 

  • 75 iPads received
  • PACU using iPads for discharge education
  • Patient Testimonial: The engagement iPad was used to connect a COVID mom in the ICU with her new baby in a different ICU.The team helps her do daily Webex meetings to connect with her baby since she has no memory of the delivery.


Virtual Intensive Care Unit (vICU)

The Virtual ICU (vICU) provides continuous intensivist coverage for Houston Methodist’s 300+ ICU beds.  The vICU is a remote monitoring center that captures real-time physiological data and uses predict analytic tools to rapidly identify critical risk factors and anticipate patient decompensation.  The vICU Operations Center is staffed by intensivists and critical care nurses who provide patient care by initiating earlier interventions and offering additional support to bedside ICU teams.  Patient rooms are equipped with high-resolution cameras and television monitors to allow for unobtrusive observation or consult with the patient.


  • Installation of cameras and monitors in all 163 ICU rooms at Houston Methodist Hospital
  • Launched vICU with the Neurosurgical ICU on March 16 with 24 beds.  Within 10 days, we then launched vICU in Medical ICU, Cardiac ICU, and Cardiovascular ICU – for a total of 126 beds.
  • While intended to provide nighttime coverage, the vICU is staffed 24/7 to provide additional support to the bedside teams.  Additionally, we offer assistance to connect families with their loved ones during this time of limited visitation to the hospital.
  • Between March 16 through May 11, we responded to more than 400 Virtual Alert Button calls to the bedside and have had nearly 7,000 remote connections into patient rooms using our two-way audiovisual technology.


Video Enabled Physician Rounds for COVID Patients

To minimize unnecessary use of PPE and exposure to clinical staff, Houston Methodist has deployed iPads for physicians to perform “virtual rounds” on patients during the pandemic.  Virtual Command Center established to support these physicians which is staffed by patient experience specialists and labor pool.

  • 400+ iPads launched systemwide