COVID-19 telemonitoring program helps reduce hospital admissions and ER visits
The rapid upscaling of a telemonitoring program in which health care providers performed daily telemedicine check-ins on COVID-19 patients faced a unique set of challenges. How these were resolved, and early outcomes, are reported in the peer-reviewed journal Telemedicine and e-Health.
"Kaiser Permanente's Virtual Home Care Program (VHCP) was able to rapidly establish a telemedicine-based program for the management of COVID-19 positive patients in the DC and Baltimore Metro regions. Preliminary data suggest that such a program may be effective in keeping patients out of the hospital and/or emergency room," stated James Shaw, MD, Med-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, and coauthors.
The researchers described three main challenges. The constant flow of providers into and out of the program. Challenges in the management of Spanish-speaking patients and the need for translators. The initial lack of an alert system in the pulse oximetry program to alert patients and providers when a patient registered a low oxygen reading.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity for telemedicine and telehealth to grow exponentially. Kaiser's work in the DC Metro area is a testament to providers developing and implementing new ways in rapid fashion in order to maximize health care delivery," says Charles R. Doarn, MBA, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal and Research Professor and Director of the Master of Public Health Program, Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Ohio.