5 ways home health monitoring supports COVID-19Patient engagement · Apr 29, 2020
While some Canadian provinces are flattening the COVID-19 curve, other regions may face challenges that strain healthcare capacity. How can we proactively monitor large volumes of confirmed cases and contacts related to COVID-19, as well as support increased hospitalizations, and ensure people do not hesitate to seek care for their conditions¹ when they need to?
Technology-supported home health monitoring (HHM) offers a solution by letting clinicians care for patients remotely. With HHM, patients send vital signs and self-evaluations to clinicians over a secure internet connection. Clinicians watch for early signs of worsening symptoms, allowing interventions to be delivered in a timely way.
HHM is tailor-made for a time when limiting physical contact benefits everyone. Here are 5 ways HHM can support care in the face of COVID-19:
1. Supporting patients in their home for the care they need
For individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, while some might experience little to no symptoms, other more severe cases may quickly evolve, where infection could lead to death². Home health monitoring allows patients who do not need 24/7 acute care to be closely monitored from home by public health authorities and medical teams. This helps relieve pressure on hospital emergency rooms and clinics freeing up resources for the 5-10% of COVID-19 patients who will need intensive care³.
HHM may also help ease confusion, stress and worry for patients either dealing with COVID-19 or living with other chronic conditions such as heart and lung diseases while in self isolation. With a virtual care team monitoring their symptoms, patients can feel more confident managing their conditions in the comfort of their homes while reducing their risk of infection.
2. Making efficient use of clinician time
HHM frees up clinician time spent filling out paper-based forms and making one-on-one phone calls with individuals, reducing the strain of data collection on both patients and clinicians. HHM helps clinical teams better manage their valuable time and finite resources to support large volumes of individuals. Team-based monitoring models using HHM allow dedicated clinician groups to monitor between 40 patients⁴ (as seen in Canada) to 250 patients⁵ (as seen in the UK) at any given time. As regions across the country begin reopening businesses, schools and other services, health authorities will be prepared to support potential spikes in new confirmed COVID-19 cases and contacts.
3. Protecting clinicians in care settings
COVID-19 has fostered innovative concepts on the use of HHM in facilities and hospitals, with the goal of protecting clinicians by reducing their risk of exposure to infection and better managing their use of personal protective equipment. One concept case considers the use of HHM for the collection of vitals and health status, allowing physicians and clinicians to view clinical data centrally for one inpatient unit⁶. In the same unit, HHM could be used as a simple communication tool to schedule delivery of basic needs to patients in their rooms. Before entering patients’ rooms, clinicians use HHM to communicate with patients at pre-set times throughout the day about their basic needs like getting ice and water, tissue, or to talk to someone because they feel lonely due to the no-visitor facility policy. By collecting this information through HHM, clinicians could better organize their interventions and visits in and out of patient rooms, making most efficient use of their personal protective equipment.
4. Applying a tested and proven program
HHM programs are already in place in Canada to support patients discharged from hospital and managing chronic conditions at home. Over the last several years, B.C. HHM programs involving more than 4,000 patients have shown remarkable results, significantly improving quality of life for patients and saving healthcare costs. In one study⁷, HHM reduced emergency visits by 81%, hospital admissions by 92% and length of hospital stay by 94%. Most importantly, patients reported 95% satisfaction with HHM: just knowing that someone is there in case their health begins to worsen gives patients peace of mind and the confidence to manage their conditions at home.
5. Deploying and scaling quickly
B.C. is responding to the pandemic by expanding its existing TELUS HHM solution, using a CDC-ratified online COVID-19 questionnaire. TELUS Health is also making a fully web-based solution available across Canada, with patients supplying their own tablet, thermometer and other equipment. This facilitates a wider and a much quicker rollout of the service across a region, and faster scaling to help support a larger number of Canadians at a time.
Canadians are rallying together in an unprecedented collective effort to overcome this crisis. Bold leadership and new thinking across sectors can help underpin and unite these efforts. TELUS Health is proud to support this nation-wide movement to strengthen and support the Canadian healthcare system.
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May Tuason, RN BSN MBA Clinical Lead & Senior Manager Patient Engagement Team, Public Sector Solutions
¹ Global News Vancouver (Apr 21, 2020) https://globalnews.ca/news/6848813/bc-emergency-room-visits-down-coronavirus/
² Government of Canada COVID-19 website (Apr 28, 2020) https://www.cheknews.ca/app-monitor-covid-19-patients-664113/
³ Government of Canada outbreak update (March 28) https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html
⁴ Island Health Authority in BC (April 23, 2020) https://www.cheknews.ca/app-monitor-covid-19-patients-664113/
⁵ Tameside and Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group (2019) https://www.tunstall.co.uk/siteassets/uk/case-studies/tameside-and-glossop-case-study.pdf
⁶ Duke Raleigh Hospital (April 21, 2020) https://dukeraleighblog.com/2020/04/21/virtual-visits-inside-the-hospital-improve-patient-care-during-covid-19-response/
⁷ Island Health Authority in BC (March 1, 2018) Evaluation of the Home Health Monitoring Expansion Project,