New research shows that remote patient monitoring can help reduce hospitalizations and intensive care unit stays among
patients with COVID-19.
A study published in JAMA Network Open found that implementing a remote patient monitoring (RPM) program led to positive outcomes for COVID-19 patients, including lower hospitalizations, intensive care use, and lengths of stay.
As a result of restrictions spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and providers turned to telehealth and RPM to care for patients. Though the use of virtual care has increased, questions surrounding its effectiveness remain.
To gain answers, researchers performed a cohort study at Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network, an academic health system in Wisconsin. The goal of the study was to gain insight into the effectiveness of RPM by using measurements like patient outcomes and hospitalization rates.
The RPM program enabled COVID-19 patients to track symptoms, temperatures, and pulse oximetry readings through a web or mobile application. It also provided COVID-19 education, including strategies to minimize infection spread and stress management. Further, a virtual care team monitored patient check-ins and comments continuously.
The study included 9,378 patients with a positive test for COVID-19, of whom 5,364 engaged in the RPM program. Of those who used the program, the average number of check-ins was 35.3, and the average number of free-text comments was 1.27. In addition, 16.4 percent of patients experienced at least one alert.
Overall, 128 of the 5,364 patients in the program (2.4 percent) were hospitalized. This was lower than the number of patients who did not participate in the program and were hospitalized, which was 158 of 4,014 (3.9 percent).
The study found that remotely monitored patients averaged a 4.44-day length of stay, shorter than the 7.14-day average experienced by those not being monitored. Also, 15 monitored patients were admitted to the intensive care unit as opposed to 44 unmonitored patients.
But, according to the researchers, various limitations could have affected outcomes. These include the potential for selection bias when implementing RPM into the treatment of certain patients, the use of retrospective data, the location of facilities, and changes in COVID-19 treatment barriers.
Despite these limitations, researchers concluded that the RPM program effectively treated COVID-19 patients.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telehealth and RPM has increased, supporting expanded access and improved quality of care.
For example, a Mayo Clinic study from September 2021 showed how a multi-state RPM program assisted in the response to COVID-19. The study demonstrated that as hospitals became overcrowded during surges of COVID-19 cases, the program helped reduce the capacity issue and allowed patients to remain in their homes.
Another study published in March found that a COVID-19 home monitoring program proved successful. Developed by the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the program helped keep most patients out of the hospital.
This article originally appeared at https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/remote-patient-monitoring-linked-to-lower-covid-19-hospitalizations