Remote patient monitoring (RPM) programs can reduce the duration and severity of COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a new study.
To conduct the study, researchers gave RPM devices to approximately 9,400 patients from the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network who tested positive for COVID-19 between March and November 2020. Of these, 5,364 activated the devices. They were asked to track and report their symptoms, temperatures, and pulse oximetry readings for 14 days using either a web or mobile app. Responses were monitored by a team of nurses from Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin.
They found that 2.4% of activated patients were hospitalized within two to 14 days of their test, compared to 3.9% of inactivated patients. The median length of stay was 2.7 days shorter for activated patients than non-activated patients, and only 0.3% of activated patients required intensive care care compared to 1.1% of those who had not activated the program. The 90-day unadjusted mortality rate was 0.2% in activated patients and 0.6% in activated patients.
The authors offer several possible explanations for the impact of RPM on hospital stay. One is that patients who were monitored also received training that could have affected their need for hospitalization, such as: B. the improvement of the oxygen supply by lying on the stomach.
Another reason is that physicians caring for activated patients have felt comfortable not taking their patients to the hospital because of the pulse oximetry provided by RPM and the support provided by the nursing staff.
Data from the study also showed that patients hospitalized later after testing positive for COVID-19 than those who were not monitored. The authors offer two possible explanations for the difference. The first is that either the patient or the clinician has postponed hospitalization as a result of the services provided through the RPM program. Second, remote care provided by nurses under the program resulted in less risk and only necessary referrals.
The authors say their findings demonstrate how RPM can be a helpful adjunct to care during current or future pandemics. “Resource optimization is a key tenet of both the RPM and pandemic eras,” they note. “If reductions in avoidable admissions can be achieved through virtual interventions, physicians can focus on providing personal care to the most ill patients while limiting unnecessary contacts in hospitals and clinics, which is key to containing the spread of COVID-19.”
The “Hospitalization Outcomes Among Patients With COVID-19 Undergoing Remote Monitoring” study was published on July 7th JAMA network open.