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Discharged COVID patients connect with hospitals virtually for follow-up

 

Discharged COVID patients connect with hospitals virtually for follow-up

Hamilton’s hospitals have joined forces to develop a virtual method of tracking the progress of COVID patients who have been discharged from hospital and are recovering at home. One patient, Lynda Ferguson, 69, who also has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease developed a fever and sore throat. Her oxygen saturation levels dropped and she was struggling to breathe. “I called an ambulance and told them that I thought I had COVID,” says Ferguson, who tested positive and spent four nights in hospital before being discharged. She was invited by HHS to take part in the new remote monitoring program while recovering at home

The program monitors COVID patients for their first 15 days at home after leaving the hospital, using technology to connect them daily to HHS nurses specially trained in virtual care.

Preventing return trips to hospital

Patients receive a health kit that includes a tablet computer and data plan, blood pressure monitor, oximeter and digital thermometer. They record their vital signs daily from the comfort of their own homes, which are sent instantly to a nurse at the hospital’s virtual command centre.

Nurses use their technology partner’s CloudDX platform to virtually interact with patients. They can escalate care to a physician if needed, who can have a virtual visit with the patient. If the patient needs to return to hospital, the virtual team can contact paramedics.

“Virtual care and remote home monitoring are game changers when it comes to how we care for patients,” says Dr. Mohamed Panju, site chief for HHS Hamilton General Hospital, where one of the COVID units is located.

Dr. Mohamed Panju

Panju is also a physician lead for the remote home monitoring program. “Remote home monitoring creates a safety net for patients recovering at home and it helps prevent return trips to the emergency department since the virtual care team can help with health concerns that might arise.”

For example, if an oximeter reading shows that a patient isn’t receiving enough oxygen, the virtual care nurse can escalate the case to the on-call respirologist who can meet with the patient virtually and order additional oxygen delivered to the patient’s home. Or if a patient needs a new medication, they can meet virtually with a physician who can fax the prescription to their local pharmacy.

The program also helps free up hospital beds, since patients are being monitored from home instead of in hospital.

Easy to use

The software technology being used for HHS patients is user friendly and the feedback so far from patients, nurses and physicians has been positive. “I’m not a techie but I find it easy to use,” says Ferguson, who also enjoys the daily contact with the virtual nursing team from her Hamilton home.

“Every morning I do my vitals. The nurse calls every day to check on me. We have a little chit chat and she goes over my vitals with me. I live alone, so it feels good having this connection with the hospital.”

The software technology being used for HHS patients is user friendly and the feedback so far from patients, nurses and physicians has been positive. “I’m not a techie but I find it easy to use,” says Ferguson, who also enjoys the daily contact with the virtual nursing team from her Hamilton home.

“Every morning I do my vitals. The nurse calls every day to check on me. We have a little chit chat and she goes over my vitals with me. I live alone, so it feels good having this connection with the hospital.”

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