Remote Monitoring and COVID-19: A Lifeline in the Surge

Sonia Singh, Vice President, Center for Consumerism, AVIA

The surge of COVID-19 is upon us. If you are a hospital or health system operating in a region that is not already in the surge, you are likely anticipating and preparing for it. This means your at- or over-capacity care teams may be struggling to manage the vast numbers of patients who have tested positive, are potentially exposed, or are high risk but stable enough to be sent home. Manually monitoring these patients (e.g., phone check-ins with nurses) isn’t scalable and can potentially be ineffective.

Remote monitoring (monitoring of symptoms and conditions virtually, outside of a facility) offers a practical and scalable digital solution every health system must start deploying immediately, whether you’re already experiencing or anxiously anticipating the surge. For COVID-19, remote monitoring can be applied for screening, prevention, education, and symptom surveillance. In addition to addressing provider capacity issues and reducing risk of exposure,  remote monitoring can also be used to adapt care for existing non–COVID-19 patients, such as those with chronic diseases,  high-risk pregnancies, in post acute recovery, etc.

Immediate Actions to Start Today:

  • Deploy “bring your own device” (BYOD) remote monitoring solutions for COVID-19 positive patients, patients under investigation (PUIs), COVID-19 exposed, or known high-risk populations through broadcast text messages that provide a link to the patient to download the app or web form on their own device.
  • Have your interactive voice response (IVR) and website triage/screener tools direct to remote screening and monitoring tools. For example, when a patient checks for exposure or self-identifies as potentially being infected, they would automatically receive a remote monitoring app for continued screening and symptom surveillance.
  • Use third-party pre-built COVID-19 CDC-compliant care plans (e.g., symptom management, self-quarantine check-ins) in the BYOD remote monitoring app.
  • Send patients home with thermometers and pulse oximeters (or ship them to patients) so they can self-report on temperature and oxygen saturation in addition to cough frequency and other key symptoms.
  • Rapidly train nurses and clinical support staff to monitor patients enrolled in the home monitoring program, while developing workflows for escalations, virtual visits, and follow ups based on symptom severity.

Remote Monitoring Dos and Don’ts:

  • Do: Remind patients through text-based push notifications to update their symptoms online, ideally with a no log-in, simple web form that can be completed directly from a smartphone.
  • Don’t: Allow for any friction for your anxious, sick patients. If they didn’t want to log into cumbersome portals before, they are certainly not going to want to do that now.
  • Do: Allow for an easy escalation path to virtual visits if symptoms go beyond thresholds, so patients don’t feel locked out and can reach a clinician if needed.
  • Don’t: Design solutions only around EMRs and existing workflows. New workflows will be needed to be agile and effective.

Health systems are rapidly implementing remote monitoring to address COVID-19
AVIA has reviewed a number of robust digital solutions that are rapidly adapting their products to COVID-19 care pathways and can be deployed in a matter of days.

Health systems such as Providence have successfully scaled remote monitoring for over 600 PUIs and COVID-19 diagnosed patients, and are achieving 80% patient adoption rates. Specifics of Providence’s program follow:

  • Patients who are well enough to be sent home to self-quarantine after an ED or urgent care visit are enrolled in the remote monitoring program and given a take-home thermometer and pulse oximeter.
  • Three times per day, patients are reminded via text to update their symptoms, which can be done via a simple web form on their devices.
  • Tele-ICU nurses monitor recorded symptoms for decompensating patients.

Enhanced remote monitoring programs will become the new normal
In addition to the here and now tactics, we are also shifting our gaze toward the oncoming rolling recovery period and thinking about how that will usher in the “new normal.” We know that solutions in virtual health and remote monitoring have dramatically altered the landscape already — in a good way. We expect that current changes in consumer behavior, provider acceptance, regulatory landscape, and payment structures will permanently shift how healthcare is delivered in the future, with remote monitoring here to stay.

For more information on leveraging digital to combat COVID-19, explore our COVID-19 Resource Hub on AVIA Connect here or contact us.

Want to learn more about implementing digital strategies in response to COVID-19? Sign up for our COVID-19 Weekly Bulletin here.

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More COVID-19 Resources
For more information on leveraging digital to combat COVID-19, explore our COVID-19 Resource Hub.

Explore Hub on AVIA Connect here or contact us.

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