Connected Health at a Distance
As trends in connected health continue to rapidly advance in the wake of COVID-19, clinicians are finding new and helpful ways of using readily available technologies to monitor patients remotely. Our latest article on connected health discusses how existing symptom monitoring options can help to both observe patients from afar and report critical data in real time.
As the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, we are finding more companies creating innovative solutions to help mitigate the virus’ negative effects. Pulse oximeters are an often overlooked technology that we think are ripe for growth and technological advancement. These wearable fingertip devices measure a patient’s oxygen level, pulse rate and breathing rate. Some medical professionals believe pulse oximeters could help patients monitor their oxygen levels, which can be heavily affected by COVID-19 pneumonia. Typically, this symptom is difficult for patients to self-detect, and it can cause oxygen levels in already vulnerable patients to drop quickly at dangerous rates.1 Pulse oximeters calculate oxygen saturation and pulse very quickly, and this early detection could spur the sick to seek medical treatment before respiratory failure or the need for a ventilator.
Inexpensive pulse oximeters found at local pharmacies are known for false readings that could lead patients to unnecessarily seek medical attention. However, we have identified certain companies that create digitally connected pulse oximeters with numerous positive externalities. One such example is a pulse oximeter that acts as a remote monitoring device and allows clinicians to continuously monitor at-risk patients from the comfort of a patient’s own home. The device provides noninvasive and continuous monitoring of oxygen saturation, pulse rate, respiration rate and other valuable measurements. This device connects to a centralized viewing station through a cloud-based remote data capture and surveillance platform. The program is accessible from the wearer’s smartphone or smart device and can also be reviewed by clinicians. The pulse oximeter not only allows clinicians to remotely monitor patients, but it also enables them to collect patient data for valuable insights without requiring the patient to visit a hospital. In the near term, this allows hospitals and clinicians to focus their in-person efforts to fight COVID-19 and reduces hospital congestion. This new clinician availability should facilitate the return of non-urgent, scheduled procedures.
There has been growing concern over deferrals of needed care, causing declining health status in many patients. Remote patient monitoring also keeps clinicians safer by limiting their direct exposure to sick patients. We believe that this could help costs for the healthcare system in the long term. Lengthy and costly hospital stays could be reduced as care is shifted to the home, and aggregated data gathered from oximeters could be studied to help us better understand COVID-19. We believe the digital connection of healthcare devices is a long-term, secular growth trend, and we are excited about current innovation in this sector.
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