The wide-scale deployment of digital technology has been a key feature of the NHS response to the COVID-19 pandemic. New technology solutions have helped the NHS make sure that patients continue to have access to the care they need and has empowered patients to play an active role in managing their illness.
In Kent and Medway, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has successfully established a COVID Oximetry @home programme which has introduced a digital remote monitoring solution from health technology company Docobo.
Patients who test positive for COVID-19 and are most clinically at risk of serious illness are given a device – an oximeter – to monitor oxygen levels in their blood. Patients are then able to collect their oxygen readings and submit them to the team caring for them. The service means patients with COVID-19 can remain in their own homes and be cared for, with clinicians able to step in quickly and ensure they get help if their condition worsens. So far, GPs and their teams in Kent and Medway have monitored nearly 6,000 patients in this way and through this have identified nearly 200 patients who needed to go to hospital for treatment.
The NHS recommends the use of oximetry at home to monitor and identify ‘silent hypoxia’, a drop in oxygen in the blood, as oxygen levels are recognised as the best way to identify patients most at risk of poor outcomes due to COVID-19.
Supported by funding from NHSX, some patients in Kent and Medway are using Docobo’s technology to enter their pulse oximetry readings via a simple SMS text message or via the DOCOBO app. There is also the option for patients to give the COVID Oximetry @home team the readings by phone for them to be entered into the system. The Docobo solution alerts clinicians if blood oxygen readings drop, so that they can contact the patient and provide the appropriate care.
Morfydd Williams Executive Director for Digital Transformation, Kent and Medway CCG, said:
“We are very excited about the digital future of health and care in Kent and Medway, where we are able to support more patients in this way. Future developments could also include clinicians monitoring temperature, pulse and blood pressure.”
Adrian Flowerday, MD of Surrey-based Docobo, said:
“This new service is vital in the fight against COVID-19 and silent hypoxia as it means that patients can enter their pulse oximetry readings digitally and clinicians can use the DOC@HOME platform as part of the care they provide their patients – monitoring their levels and intervening when necessary.
“We are pleased that we have been able to roll out our fully regulated remote monitoring functionality to the people of Kent and Medway. Our remote monitoring solution is used across England and also within the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) where it allows healthcare providers to monitor their elderly, unwell and frail patients in their own homes or care homes.”
Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network (KSS AHSN) has been supporting the roll-out of COVID oximetry remote monitoring, working with NHS and industry colleagues to set up effective models of care, share learning and provide data and analytics to inform decision-making.
Ursula Clarke, Patient Safety Lead, KSS Patient Safety Collaborative / KSS AHSN, said:
“It’s been a great experience to have supported the system to do this quickly, working with our colleagues in Kent and Medway to get the service up and running to support people with COVID-19.
“Patients can stay at home where they can get better quicker within a familiar environment while they remain safe, knowing that the NHS continues to care for them closely.”
For all the latest information and resources around the Covid Oximetry @home initiative, visit https://wessexahsn.org.uk/projects/388/covid-oximetry-at-home-toolkit
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Contact Ursula Clarke, Senior Programme Manager, KSS PSC / KSS AHSN