Transforming Our Virtual Hospital® Services Over the Years

Screenshot of Virtual Hospital home page

A library first

In the early 1990s, at the dawn of the Internet, pioneering doctors from the University of Iowa began publishing a website they named Virtual Hospital®. Their innovative service brought the health library resources of an academic medical center to a world-wide audience of students, providers, and patients.

Over the course of two decades, millions of visitors each year poured over tens of thousands of Virtual Hospital® web pages.

  • Health students and physicians in training found valuable information to assist them in their understanding of anatomy and disease processes.
  • Providers in far-reaching areas of the globe discovered up-to-date, evidence-based practices to add to their treatment for a broad range of diseases and conditions.
  • Patients were able to collect authoritative information about their conditions to help them partner with their providers to receive the best and most timely care.

Virtual Hospital® patient education resources continue to be published on UI Hospitals and Clinics web pages at where they see high traffic volumes from around the world.

Direct delivery to the world’s students

Virtual Hospital® content has been distributed globally through the efforts of other University of Iowa innovations, such as the eGranary digital library. Since 2000, eGranary’s WiderNet project has placed small networks of computers and hard drives full of digital resources including the Virtual Hospital®, in more than 1,400 schools, clinics, and universities in Africa, India, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, and Haiti.

Delivering direct care through our Virtual Hospital®

In recent years, University of Iowa Health Care continues to use advanced technology to explore ways for care delivery itself to be available wherever and whenever it’s needed.

Hospitals in rural Midwest communities can now have the Virtual Hospital® within their walls through the innovative Virtual Hospitalist Program launched by UI Health Care in 2016 in partnership with The Signal Center for Health Innovations.

Making future connections

The theme throughout the history of Virtual Hospital® is making connections.

Patients and providers who rely on our up-to-date, authoritative information today are as close as our Iowa neighbors and as remote as a group of Russian neonatologists who use a translated version of the Virtual Hospital® Iowa Neonatology Handbook to care for their tiny patients.

Today, visionaries at UI Health Care are laying the groundwork to one day be part of a Virtual Hospital® service that cares for earth’s astronauts traveling to other planets.